Friday, August 12, 2022

Zouma fined by West Ham, loses sponsor over animal abuse

LONDON ( Associated Press) — Kurt Zouma was fined two weeks’ salary by West Ham and lost his sponsorship deal with Adidas on Wednesday after he was filmed kicking and slapping a cat.

An animal welfare charity took custody of Zouma’s two cats while it investigates video footage that has been shared widely on social media and led to the France international issuing an apology for his conduct.

His exact salary has not been disclosed but British media reported the fine by West Ham to be more than $300,000.

“Kurt and the club are co-operating fully with the investigation and the player has willingly complied with the steps taken in the initial stage of the process, including delivering his family’s two cats to the RSPCA for assessment,” the Premier League club said, referring to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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“Kurt is extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feeling surrounding the incident and the need for action to be taken,” West Ham’s statement added.

The club said that apart from the RSPCA’s investigation “and pending further sanction once the outcome of that process is determined” it has fined Zouma “the maximum amount possible” — which is two weeks’ wages.

“The player has immediately accepted the fine and has requested that it is donated to animal welfare charities,” West Ham said.

Hours later, leading sportswear manufacturer Adidas said it had concluded its own investigation and decided Zouma would no longer be a “contracted athlete.”

West Ham was under pressure from its sponsors, too. Vitality said Wednesday it was suspending its sponsorship as the club’s official wellness partner and would talk to West Ham “to understand what actions they will be taking to address the situation.”

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Zouma started for West Ham in a 1-0 victory over Watford in the Premier League on Tuesday night, hours after the club had initially condemned the defender’s actions.

In its statement Wednesday, the London club said the matter involving Zouma was being handled “with the utmost seriousness” and was waiting for the RSPCA to complete its investigation “in a fair and thorough manner.”

Amid growing public calls for Zouma to be prosecuted for animal cruelty, the RSPCA confirmed it has custody of the cats.

“The two cats are now in RSPCA care. Our priority is and has always been the well-being of these cats,” the organization said in a statement. “They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vet’s and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues.”

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More Associated Press soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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