LONDON (AP) — West Ham defender Kurt Zouma was banned from keeping cats for five years and ordered Wednesday to carry out 180 hours of community service as a punishment for kicking and slapping his pet cat in abuse caught on video.
The France international received his sentence at Thames Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty last week to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
In footage of the abuse that took place on Feb. 6 and surfaced on social media, the soccer player could be seen kicking his Bengal cat across his kitchen, before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
District judge Susan Holdham described the actions as “disgraceful and reprehensible.”
Zouma’s younger brother, Yoan, filmed the incident involving the cat and posted it on Snapchat.
Yoan Zouma was ordered Wednesday to carry out 140 hours of community service in a hearing that lasted 15 minutes. He is also a soccer player, and was suspended in February by fifth-tier team Dagenham.
West Ham fined Zouma two weeks of salary — the maximum amount possible — when the incident came to light, but manager David Moyes continued to pick the defender to play when fit. Zouma also lost a sponsorship deal with Adidas.
The Premier League club said the money it received from fining Zouma went to charities dedicated to animal welfare.
“West Ham wishes to make clear that we condemn in the strongest terms any form of animal abuse or cruelty,” the club said. “This type of behavior is unacceptable and is not in line with the values of the football club.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took Kurt Zouma’s two pet cats into care after the incident.
The RSPCA brought the prosecution against the brothers even though it does not have the power to charge people.
British law allows organizations such as the RSPCA to use specialist lawyers to bring private prosecutions against individuals, with such cases heard in court and sometimes taken over by public prosecutors.
“We are pleased there has been swift justice in this awful case and our focus now is matching these beautiful cats to the loving homes they deserve,” RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy said.
“This case sends a really clear message that animals should never be treated like this, and posting videos of animals being harmed on social media for likes is abhorrent.”
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