Police have revealed they are investigating Premier League footballer Kurt Zouma after a video was shared online seeming to show him kicking a cat.
Essex Police has confirmed tonight (Tuesday) officers are liaising with the RSPCA as part of “urgent enquiries”.
The Frenchman has been condemned by West Ham United, his employer, as well as the RSPCA and other animal welfare groups after the video was shared online.
The 27-year-old defender apologised, this morning, after the video appeared online and people reacted in shock to what it seemed to show.
Zouma can reportedly be seen kicking and slapping the cat, while laughter can be heard in the background.
The France international then chases the animal before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head, reports EssexLive.
A statement from Essex Police read: “We are aware of a video circulating on social media relating to an incident involving a cat, which members of our communities may find distressing.
“We have recently been made aware that this incident may have taken place in Essex and we are liaising with the RSPCA.
“Urgent inquiries are ongoing.”
The RSPCA said it had received “lots of messages on social media” about the incident.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “This is a very upsetting video and we’d like to reassure the public that we are investigating.
“We cannot comment further at this time but we’re grateful to everyone who has brought this to our attention.
“We have received lots of messages on social media and our other channels, so we’re urging people to only contact our nationalty line (030 cruel0 1234 999) if they have new or first-hand information.”
Despite the investigations, Zouma was named in West Ham’s starting line-up against Watford tonight (February 8).
After the clip emerged, West Ham criticized Zouma’s actions.
“West Ham United unreservedly condemns 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.”
Zouma has also released a statement apologizing for his actions and expressing his regret.
“I want to apologize for my actions. There are no excuses for my behavior, which I sincerely regret,” Zouma said.
“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’s brother, Dagenham & Redbridge defender Yoan, has been condemned by his club for filming the video and for “his reactions to the events shown”.
A Dagenham & Redbridge statement read: “Since first becoming aware of the incident this morning the club has had discussions with Yoan and we will now take some time to consider our response, which we will, of course, make public in due course.
“However, in the meantime, we would like to make it completely clear that we in no way condone any form of cruelty towards animals and take this cruel matter very seriously.”
Yoan Zouma said he “deeply regretted” his actions in his own statement “I deeply regret my involvement in the video that has been widely circulated and unreservedly apologise, not only for my actions, but for the upset and distress this will have caused to so many people,” he said.
“I am now taking time to reflect on what I have done but wish to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident and not something that I am proud of.”on the club’s official website.