West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has apologised after a disturbing video surfaced online of him kicking and slapping a cat, with the Premier League club publicly condemning the footage and vowing to deal with the matter.
Zouma is seen in the clip dropping, kicking and slapping the animal, while laughter can be heard in the background.
The 27-year-old then chases the cat, before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
West Ham condemned Zouma’s actions in a strongly-worded statement following the publication of the clip.
“West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated,” the club said in The Sun newspaper.
“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.”
Zouma has also released a statement, apologising for his actions and expressing his regret.
He told The Sun: “I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.
“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
“They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”
Animal charities have condemned the footage, which could see Zouma face a criminal probe.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “This is a very upsetting video. It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise.
“We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare.”