NEWS AND COMMENT-UK: Kurt Zouma, a UK Premier league football star and a French international player, admitted kicking and slapping his pet cat yesterday in the magistrates court. The West Ham defender, 27, pleaded guilty to 2 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Sadly, to compound the problem, it was reported that his crime fuelled a copycat craze: “Kick the Cat Club” with thugs filming themselves ticking felines in an horrific imitation of the footballer. A clear indication of how footballers influence fans and the responsibility that they bear to ensure that their behaviour off the football pitch is always appropriate.
Thames Magistrates Court was told how he launched a “premeditated” attack on his Bengal cat in February. The cat had damaged one of his chairs and the court was told he could be heard saying: “I swear I’ll kill it.”
His brother, Yoan, 24, created a 40-second video of the incident and posted it online. He was laughing throughout the episode. He sent the video to a woman he was about to meet. She was shocked and told him that she would not meet him. She also warned him that he should be careful because his brother was a high-profile footballer. A wise woman and her words were very true.
In the video Zouma is seen kicking his cat across the kitchen floor and throwing his shoes at the cat as he flees. And he encouraged his seven-year-old son to hold the cat as he slapped him. Perhaps the NSPCC should be involved on that because it seems to me that that was a case of parental neglect and child abuse of a mild form.
Hazel Stephens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the magistrate: “This is a scene which can only be described as shocking. He did not chastise the cat where it was but brought it into the kitchen and kicked it like a football. Treating family pets in this way does not demonstrate good role model behaviour”.
Zouma lost an Adidas sponsorship and it appears he might have lost his place on the French international team at least temporarily. Yoan lost his place on the National League team Dagenham and Redbridge as a consequence of this well-publicised criminal behaviour. Yoan admitted one charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his older brother to commit the offence.
You may remember that Zouma was fined £250,000 by his club and the money was donated to several animal welfare charities. The judge granted the Zouma brothers’ request to have their address withheld. Sadly, they are going to be searchable on the Internet for many years to come. They may make a request to Google have their names delisted from Google searches. Sometimes people do this because they find that the Internet spoils their chances of recovering their lives after crimes that they committed many years ago.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I receive a request from Zouma’s lawyer in about 12 months’ time to remove this page!
There was a rugby scrum at the court with security guards using umbrellas to form a protective shield against pushing photographers. Zouma agreed to have his two Bengal cats rehomed. An independent veterinarian has assessed them and confirmed that there were no remaining injuries but that they would have suffered and been distressed by the incident.
The brothers were released on bail and will be sentenced by the same court next week.
Below are some more pages on crimes concerning cats.