Kurt Zouma pleads guilty to kicking and slapping his cat

LONDON — West Ham defender Kurt Zouma pleaded guilty on Tuesday to kicking and slapping his pet cat during filmed abuse.

The 27-year-old France international appeared in a hearing at Thames Magistrates’ Court charged with three offenses under animal welfare law in relation to footage of the abuse which took place on 6 February and surfaced on social media.

Zouma pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, while another charge was dismissed. He will be sentenced on June 1.

Zouma arrived at the court in a car and was accompanied by several security guards who held umbrellas to form a protective shield around him as he was bundled up in the court.

Zouma’s younger brother, Yoan, filmed the incident involving the cat and posted it on Snapchat.

Kurt Zouma could be seen kicking his Bengal cat in his kitchen, before throwing a pair of shoes at him and slapping his head.

The court was told by prosecutor Hazel Stevens that Kurt Zouma could be heard saying, “I swear I’m going to kill him. I swear I will kill him. Stevens said the cats were held responsible by Zouma for damaging a chair in his home.

“Since these images were released into the public domain,” Stevens said, “there has been a flurry of people hitting cats and posting them on various social media sites.

“Their behavior is below what is expected of a top-level image.”

Yoan Zouma has admitted one count of aiding, abetting, advising or instigating his brother to commit an offence. He was suspended in February by Fifth Division side Dagenham.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took in Kurt Zouma’s two pet cats after the incident.

West Ham fined Zouma two weeks’ wages – the maximum amount possible – when the incident came to light, but manager David Moyes has continued to pick the defender to play healthy. Zouma also lost a sponsorship deal with Adidas.

The RSPCA has taken legal action against the brothers even though it does not have the power to charge people.

UK law allows organizations such as the RSPCA to use specialist lawyers to bring private prosecutions against individuals, with these cases being heard in court and sometimes handled by prosecutors.

———

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

James T. Quintero