London (AFP) – Kurt Zouma was pulled out of the West Ham side to face Leicester on Sunday after feeling “unwell” in the warm-up, the London club said on Sunday.
The French defender had initially been named in David Moyes’ starting line-up despite fury in recent days over a video that showed Zouma physically abusing his cat.
“Issa Diop will replace Kurt Zouma in the starting XI, as he is unwell,” West Ham tweeted from the club’s official account.
Zouma has been fined the maximum amount of two weeks’ wages, reportedly around £250,000 ($340,000), but Moyes insisted on Friday he remained available for selection.
The centre-back started in a 1-0 win against Watford on Tuesday, just hours after the video was released, and was booed by both sets of supporters.
Zouma has lost his sponsorship deal with sportswear giant Adidas over the disturbing video which shows him hitting and kicking his cat and throwing a shoe at the animal while laughter was heard in the background.
West Ham have also lost sponsors with insurance and investment company Vitality and Experience Kissimmee, the tourist board of the Florida city, withdrawing their support.
The RSPCA and Essex police are working together to investigate the incident, with the animal charity taking Zouma’s pet to check on its well-being.
“I don’t think the club could take more action or any quicker. West Ham have fined him the maximum wages. We all accept the actions are terrible and diabolical,” Moyes said on Friday.
But his refusal to drop the 27-year-old has sparked widespread criticism of the former Manchester United manager.
National League club Dagenham and Redbridge have suspended Zouma’s brother Yoan, who is understood to have filmed the video.
West Ham, who sit fourth in the Premier League, are aiming to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history by finishing in the top four of the English top-flight.
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