There’s a pretty clear message being sent by the public to both Kurt Zouma and West Ham United right now.
The 27-year-old was filmed kicking and slapping his pet cat earlier this week, and now two of the club’s principal sponsors have announced they are to suspend their partnership with the London outfit.
Vitality, the health insurance firm that act as West Ham’s wellness partner, have revealed they will be temporarily canning their agreement while they await the Hammers’ next move.
“We were very distressed by the video we have seen of Kurt Zouma. At Vitality, we condemn animal cruelty and violence of any kind,” a statement from the firm read.
“We are hugely disappointed by the judgement subsequently shown by the club in response to this incident. We are suspending our sponsorship of West Ham with immediate effect.”
Meanwhile Experience Kissimee, a tourist group in Florida that is West Ham’s ‘destination partner’, has ended their deal with the club. They confirmed that they were ‘disheartened’ to learn that Zouma had been selected to start for the Irons against Watford on Tuesday night – just hours after the video was leaked.
It was disheartening to learn that the player Kurt Zouma was part of the starting line in West Ham United’s game tonight. As we wait for further information from WHU, we will be evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club.
— Experience Kissimmee (@Kissimmee) February 8, 2022
David Moyes has come in for plenty of criticism for his decision to field Zouma against the Hornets, but he steadfastly defended his right to play his ‘better players’ despite their off-field shenanigans.
Could it Get Worse for Kurt Zouma?
Having been dropped from his Adidas contract, fined £250,000 and become a figure of national revulsion, it’s been a week to forget for Kurt Zouma.
The RSPCA have now taken away his two pet cats as well, and it could yet get worse if criminal charges are brought against him.
The animal charity is said to be cooperating with Essex Police as they carry out an investigation, with animal cruelty and related crimes punishable by up to five years in prison.
It seems highly unlikely that Zouma will be punished to that extent, but West Ham are facing increasing pressure to take further action against their defender.
However, they find themselves in a tight spot. With both the transfer and loan windows closed, the 27-year-old is going nowhere, and if the Hammers were to try and sack him they would have to be able to prove beyond all doubt that he brought the club into disrepute – much harder to do if there are no criminal charges.
If it’s any consolation to him, Zouma has today been supported by teammate Michail Antonio, who questioned calls for his colleague to be sacked when others have gone unpunished for racism and other crimes.
“Do you think what he’s done is worse than racism?” the Jamaica asked a journalist who asked him for a quote.
“I’m not condoning a thing that he’s done – I don’t agree with a thing that he’s done at all. But there’s people that have been convicted in court for racism and that has played football afterwards. They got punished, they got an eight-game ban or something like that.”