West Ham fine Zouma for animal abuse, player returns cats | National sports

LONDON (AP) — West Ham fined defender Kurt Zouma two weeks and the player gave up custody of his two cats amid an animal abuse investigation on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old France international has apologized for kicking and slapping an abused cat filmed and posted on social media.

Wages were not disclosed, but UK media reported the fine was over $300,000.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has taken custody of Zouma’s two cats while they investigate the incident.

“Kurt and the club are cooperating fully with the investigation and the player has voluntarily complied with the steps taken at the initial stage of the process, including handing over his family’s two cats to the RSPCA for assessment,” the club said on Wednesday. Premier League. .

“Kurt is extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feelings surrounding the incident and the need for action,” the West Ham statement added.

The club said that apart from the RSPCA investigation “and pending further sanction once the outcome of this process is determined”, they have given Zouma “the maximum amount possible” – two weeks salary.

“The player immediately accepted the fine and asked that it be donated to animal welfare organisations,” West Ham said.

The club reiterated “our condemnation of Kurt’s actions” and said the matter was being treated “with the utmost seriousness”. He added he would not comment further at this stage while the RSPCA investigates “fairly and thoroughly”.

The RSPCA confirmed on Wednesday, amid growing public calls for Zouma to be prosecuted for animal cruelty, that she has custody of the cats.

“Both cats are now in the care of the RSPCA. Our priority is and always has been the welfare of these cats,” the organization said in a statement. “They have been taken for a vet check and will then remain in our custody while the investigation continues.”

Zouma started for West Ham in a 1-0 win over Watford on Tuesday night, hours after the club initially condemned the defender’s actions.

The RSPCA said it was “grateful to everyone who has expressed concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are investigating.

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