London (AFP) – West Ham defender Kurt Zouma and his brother Yoan face prosecution under British animal welfare laws after a disturbing video circulated showing Kurt slapping and kicking one of his own pet cats.
The footage, shot by Yoan, prompted widespread outrage and led to a hefty fine for Kurt when it surfaced last month.
Animal welfare charity the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) took two cats belonging to Kurt Zouma, 27, into its care following the incident.
On Wednesday it said it was taking action against the footballers.
“Following a full and thorough investigation, we have started the process of bringing a prosecution against Kurt Zouma and Yoan Zouma under the Animal Welfare Act,” it said in a statement.
“The two cats continue to be cared for by the RSPCA. We will be in a position to release more information once a court date is confirmed.”
West Ham manager David Moyes has continued to select France international Kurt Zouma since the incident despite calls for tougher action against him.
The central defender was fined the “maximum amount possible” by the Premier League club and lost his deal with sportswear giant Adidas over the incident.
A statement issued by the London club on Wednesday said: “West Ham United is aware of the RSPCA statement in relation to its investigation involving Kurt Zouma.
“Kurt continues to cooperate fully, supported by the club. It is our understanding that Kurt’s cats have been checked by a vet, are in good health and have suffered no physical injuries.
“For legal reasons, neither Kurt nor the club will be making any further comment at this time.”
Yoan Zouma also plays football in England, for non-league side Dagenham and Redbridge.
The National League club said their defender would now be available to play for them after being suspended since February but added they reserved the right to take further action “if deemed necessary” following the conclusion of court proceedings.
Hundreds of thousands of people signed an online petition calling for Kurt Zouma to be prosecuted and club sponsors expressed their displeasure over the contents of the video.
The central defender has been jeered by spectators, including some Hammers fans.
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