The fallout from the French defender’s viral video continues as the Hammers lose sponsors as well.
West Ham United defender Kurt Zouma has lost his sponsorship deal with Adidas following the emergence of a viral video which showed him physically abusing his cat.
Zouma’s brother had uploaded the video of the West Ham defender dropping his cat from chest-height before kicking it. The video later showed the French footballer throw a pair of shoes at it before hitting it in the face.
The video uploaded on Snapchat has since gone viral with an outroar against the footballer as fans demand action be taken against him for animal cruelty.
Zouma, who was sponsored by Adidas, was dropped by the German brand on Wednesday after an Adidas spokesperson said:
“We have concluded our investigation and can confirm Kurt Zouma is no longer an Adidas contracted athlete.”
While West Ham have fined the French international £250,000, their Official Wellness Partner, Vitality, has suspended its sponsorship agreement with the club with immediate effect.
Vitality released a statement which read:
“We are hugely disappointed by the judgement subsequently shown by the club in response to this incident.
“As such, we are suspending our sponsorship of West Ham United with immediate effect. We will now be further engaging with the club to understand what actions they will be taking to address the situation.”
The club’s Official Destination Partner, Experience Kissimmee, has also ended its partnership with the club as a result of Zouma’s actions.
Experience Kissimmee, the tourism authority for Osceola County, Florida, released a statement which said:
“Experience Kissimmee announced today that it has ended its sponsorship of West Ham United Football Club.”
Umbro UK, West Ham’s kit sponsor, has also released a statement, stating:
“Like West Ham United we condemn the actions of the player concerned and do not condone cruelty towards animals in any form.”
Heineken UK also announced that it was “appalled” by the video.
Since the public reaction over the video, both of Zouma’s cats have been taken by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), who released a statement reassuring everyone about the situation:
“We’d like to reassure people that we’re investigating and the cats are safe and in our care. We have been dealing with this since before the clip went viral online and we need to follow proper legal process and not discuss due to UK GDPR laws.”
There was further outrage when West Ham boss David Moyes decided to start the French defender against Watford.
Moyes defended his decision, saying:
“I know how people feel, but I’m also a football manager here. My feeling was that Kurt has apologised and I understand a lot of people will not just be accepting of an apology.
“But to me he came out and [apologised] honestly and I had to do my job.”
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, was also one of the many who not only criticised Zouma but Moyes’ decision to start the defender.
Khan lashed out at the player and the club, saying:
“It wasn’t done in secret. It was done and then put out on social media which shows a lack of contrition. We’ve got to be held to account when we don’t maintain high standards. I think this footballer is a disgrace.
“I think the RSPCA and the police should be looking into a criminal prosecution. I think West Ham, as this player’s employer and as a club that is loved by tens of thousands of fans across London and the country, should be taking action.
“I think Mr Zouma himself should reflect on what he’s done. He should show some contrition. If you get away with bad behaviour, whether you’re the Prime Minister, mayor or a footballer, young people who look up to you think that’s the way to behave and it’s okay.
“I think the owners of club and David Moyes should reflect on whether winning the points were more important than condemning animal cruelty.
“That cat couldn’t defend herself or himself. It was the actions of a bully.”
West Ham have also released a statement on the incident:
“Kurt and the club are cooperating 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.
“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.
“Separate to the RSPCA’s investigation and pending further sanction once the outcome of that process is determined, West Ham United can confirm that Kurt Zouma has been fined the maximum amount possible following his actions in the video that circulated. The player immediately accepted the fine, which will be donated to animal welfare charities.
“West Ham United would like to reiterate our condemnation of Kurt’s actions and make it clear that the matter continues to be handled with the utmost seriousness.”
The PFA also put out a statement, stating:
“It is not for us to discipline him, it is for the employer to discipline, but our role is to tell the player this type of behaviour is not acceptable.”
The French defender since then has come out and apologised:
“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.”