West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has been charged with three offences under Animal Welfare Act after allegedly assaulting his pet cat.
The allegations stem from a February video that appeared to show the 27-year-old kicking and slapping one of his pets. Kurt’s brother Yoan has also been charged, and the two are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.
Zouma, who joined West Ham from Chelsea for £29.8 million last summer, was fined £250,000 by the Hammers, but remained in the first team after the incident.
He is accused of causing “unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, by kicking and slapping a cat”, in contravention of section 4 subsection 1 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Kurt is also charged with failing to “protect the animal from pain suffering injury or disease”.
Yoan, 23, is accused of two charges of “aiding, abetting, counselling, or procuring” his brother to commit the offence of giving needless suffering to the cat. He was initially suspended by Dagenham & Redbridge and hasn’t played since the end of January.
The two cats were seized from Kurt’s home by the RSPCA and are now being cared for by them. A number of his sponsors, notably sportswear giants Adidas, have ditched the French international. Since the video was posted, opposing fans have been mocking the West Ham defender, with some bringing inflatable cat toys to taunt the former Chelsea player.
Following the announcement that the RSPCA would be prosecuting their player, West Ham released a statement that read:
“‘We are aware of the RSPCA statement in relation to its investigation involving Kurt Zouma.
“Kurt continues to cooperate fully, supported by the Club. It is our understanding that Kurt’s cats have been checked by a vet, are in good health and have suffered no physical injuries. For legal reasons, neither Kurt or the Club will be making any further comment at this time.”
Hammers boss David Moyes said shortly after the incident: “A mistake has been made and there are managers with players who have made mistakes. You want to feel there is forgiveness and an apology has been made.”