West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has apologised for hitting a cat and the club has condemned him for the abuse caught on video.
Zouma is seen kicking and slapping the cat, while laughter can be heard in the background. In a video released by The Sun newspaper, the 27-year-old France international then chases the animal before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
An animal-welfare charity has lambasted Zouma, while West Ham said it would deal with the player internally — though manager David Moyes still opted to select him in the team for the Premier League game against Watford.
“I want to apologise for my actions,” Zouma said.
"There are no excuses for my behavior, 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 behavior was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”
Zouma joined West Ham from Chelsea in August.
“West Ham United unreservedly condemn the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated,” the club said in a statement.
“We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was horrified.
“This is a very upsetting video," the RSPCA said.
“It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise.”
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