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Callous and horrific, Kurt Zouma’s actions leave West Ham grappling with huge problem

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f the measure of a man’s character is how he treats his fellow animals, then West Ham player Kurt Zouma is rotten to the core.

A video of Zouma abusing his cat, which emerged on Tuesday, is deeply disturbing and has rightly been met with revulsion and condemnation by a nation of animal lovers.

The footage, which should only be viewed with caution, shows Zouma kicking and slapping his pet cat, and, in a separate video, throwing shoes at the Bengal and chasing it around the room. It was apparently filmed by his brother Yoan, who can be heard laughing, before being uploaded to Snapchat.

To behave in such a way towards a defenceless animal is callous and horrifying in the extreme – as well as a potential red flag for even more troubling behaviours.

The presence of a child in the video, believed to be Zouma’s, only adds to the grimness of the footage. What kind of example is the 27-year-old setting to his two young children?

His brother’s decision to share the clip on social media doubles the disbelief, and is almost as troubling and idiotic as the abuse itself.

Are the Zoumas really so heartless and disconnected from reality as to think it was engaging content which would be widely appreciated?

Zouma and Yoan – a player for Dagenham and Redbridge – have both apologised, with the West Ham defender insisting it was “an isolated incident”.

Understanding from a revolted public will be in short supply, particularly as it is difficult to believe a one-off incident just happened to be caught on camera and posted online.

Police and the RSPCA have launched a joint-investigation, and rehoming his two cats into a safe environment feels like the very least that should happen as soon as possible.

A significant donation to an animal welfare charity like the RSPCA would also be the least Zouma could do to begin making amends.

Zouma’s actions suggest he is not currently fit to be in a position of privilege nor held up as a role model, at least until he has undertaken an educational course on animal welfare, which should put his role at West Ham in doubt.

There have already been widespread calls for the strongest possible punishment from the club, including appeals for him to be sacked.

In a statement released to The Sun newspaper, who first published the footage, the club said: “West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated.

“We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.”

The decision to start him in Tuesday’s match at home to Watford, with manager David Moyes justifying the call by saying the Frenchman is one of their “better players”, hardly suggests condemnation and sends a dreadful message about how seriously the club takes animal cruelty.

Zouma is, clearly, one of the Hammers’ most important players and their hopes of success on three fronts would be significantly dented by the absence of the £30million signing.

But in starting him against the Hornets, West Ham’s decision-makers have shown a lack of moral fibre, seemingly turning a blind eye to disturbing off-field behaviour when on-pitch success is at stake.

Zouma clearly would not have started if he had behaved in the same way towards another person and, given the widespread strength of feeling, West Ham have made a serious misstep.

The club now rightly faces being judged alongside Zouma in the court of public opinion, having dragged themselves into a mess that was not initially of their own making.

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