A horrific video of footballer Kurt Zouma went viral on social media just days ago. In the footage, which was originally posted on the social media app Snapchat, Zouma is shown hitting, dropping, and kicking one of his cats while in the presence of his brother and a young child.
In the aftermath, the footballer has issued an apology, but many believe that it is too little, too late.
The Public Outcry
Just shy of 300,000 members of the public have signed a petition demanding that Zouma is prosecuted following the release of the video, which shows several distressing actions committed by the 27-year-old. Once this petition, which was started on Change.org, reaches 300,000, it will be one of the top results on the website. At the time of writing, it is just 2,500 signatures short of that number.
Not only is the defender heard laughing as he chases one of his cats around his kitchen and dining room, he is also filmed throwing a pair of shoes at the feline as it tries to run away from him, as well as moments of him kicking and slapping his pet. The video was taken on Sunday, sometime after Zouma played in an FA Cup match with the rest of his teammates.
Police Investigation Underway
Essex police announced that they were making urgent inquiries about the incident and would be working alongside the RSPCA to investigate the events. The RSPCA is otherwise known as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Since then, we can confirm that the animal charity known as the RSPCA has removed both cats from Zouma’s care and that he has been fined the maximum amount possible for his actions by the Premier League Club. The money from the fine will be donated to animal welfare charities, which have not yet been named.
Both cats are now in the care of the RSPCA and have been through check-ups for their health. Thankfully, the two of them appear to be healthy and will remain with the RSPCA while the investigation is continued. An RSPCA spokesperson has said: “Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats.” This was announced in response to West Ham assuring fans and the public that Zouma willingly complied with all of the steps taken in the initial stage of the process, including delivering his cats to the RSPCA for assessment.
It has not been confirmed whether or not Zouma will potentially regain ownership of his cats once the investigation comes to a close.
The fine and loss of his cats are not the only things to befall Zouma since the abuse of his cat came to light. Several sponsors of the West Ham football team have also ended their deals with the club or with Zouma, himself. At present, this includes Experience Kissimmee, Adidas, and Vitality.
Shockingly, Zouma was allowed to play in a match on Tuesday, despite the ongoing investigation. The West Ham Supporters’ Trust has said they “condemn the actions” of the footballer. It is further understood that the organization feels Zouma should have been suspended until after club disciplinary procedures had been concluded. WHUST Chair, Sue Watson, stands behind this notion, and has stated that she would “like to see a very rigorous re-education program.” She wonders if he understands why people are “so angry” with him.
WHUST isn’t the only organization with known figures throwing in their two cents.
Wildlife television presenter and conservationist Chris Packham described the decision to play Zouma on Tuesday as “disgraceful”. Packham goes on to say that it proves the manager of the team, Moyes, doesn’t care about the public standards that footballers set.
“It’s not acceptable,” Packham states.
“We cannot condone this behavior. West Ham should have sent a clear message. People were disgusted by this. Fans were booing. The decision shows a complete disconnect from them.
“This isn’t an internal matter. It’s a crime. They clearly think they can get away with it because it’s an animal and not a person.”
Another concern of Packham’s is the idealism that young fans of football have for their favorite players. He’s concerned that “there’s potential that kids will see how Kurt Zouma treats defenseless animals and want to emulate him.” Packham cites Marcus Rashford as a “paragon of excellence” and “a true role model” in comparison to Zouma.
Animal Welfare in the UK
In the UK, there are serious laws against the abuse of animals. In 1822, An Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle was passed by Parliament, and the first general animal protection law, called the Protection of Animals Act, was introduced in 1911. This second Act has been updated several times since its conception.
Today, the UK looks to the Animal Welfare Act, an overhaul of pet abuse laws that replaced the old Protection of Animals Act and came into force in England and Wales in 2007. It combines over 20 pieces of legislation designed to protect animals.
The Act includes high penalties for neglect and cruelty, including maximum fines of £20,000GBP, a maximum jail term of almost a year, and a lifetime ban on owning pets. As pet owners, people have a duty of care to provide the basic needs for their animals, such as food, water, veterinary treatment, and an appropriate place to live.
Cruelty, most certainly, includes the act of purposefully terrifying and striking your animal.