Kurt Zouma’s cat is getting the last laugh.
Zouma and his brother thought they were being clever and funny when they uploaded a video showing the professional soccer player drop-kicking the poor kitty, throwing a shoe at it and slapping it in the face while Zouma’s child held the terrified pet.
The UK Sun ran a story about the video, which the Zouma brothers uploaded to Snapchat. The story went viral this week and Zouma has taken an enormous hit to his wallet and reputation.
Zouma’s club, West Ham United, fined the footballer £250,000, which works out to about $338,00, or 20 percent of his yearly salary. In a statement the club said it was the maximum amount it could fine one of its players.
Zouma’s primary sponsor, Adidas, has dropped him, while insurance company Vitality dropped its sponsorship of the entire club and other sponsors may follow.
And on Tuesday night in his first game since the scandal, Zouma was roasted by fans who showed up to watch West Ham play Watford at London Stadium. The rowdy crowd jeered every time Zouma touched the ball.
“Kurt Zouma, he plays at centre-back, he kicks his f—ing cat!” the fans chanted.
Finally, in a scene that played out like a divine condemnation of Zouma’s treatment of his kitty, a confused stray cat bolted onto the field and interrupted play during Tuesday night’s match between English League teams Wigan and Sheffield. Fans cheered as Wigan’s Jason Kerr carefully picked up the freaked-out feline and carried her off the field, risking a penalty for leaving the playing area during the game.
The British press didn’t miss the opportunity to contrast how the two football pros treated felines.
Team staff brought the tortoiseshell to a veterinarian who treated her for injuries, scanned for a microchip, and found she belonged to a family in Wirral, a town in northwest England.
The cat’s name is Topsey and she’d been missing for eight months. Alison Jubb, Topsey’s human, said she was going on vacation and was bringing Topsey to a cattery when the cat got scared and bolted out of her carrier. That was the last she heard of Topsey until late Tuesday night.
“My daughter-in-law rang me last night as they were watching the match and said there was a cat on the football pitch” who resembled Topsey, Jubb told the BBC. “I sort of laughed it off.”
But Jubb said she was no longer laughing when she received a call from a veterinarian telling her Topsey had been brought in by Wigan Athletic staff. Topsey was given pain medication and is under treatment for bite wounds, possibly from a dog, to her neck, per the BBC.
Topsey was reunited with her humans, while Zouma voluntarily surrendered his abused cat and his second kitty to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The sequence of events restored some hope to animal lovers in the UK, who were dismayed when police said they would not charge Zouma for lack of evidence, despite the video clips and Zouma’s admission that he abused his cat.
However, Zouma’s legal troubles aren’t over. The 27-year-old is a French national and could face charges in his home country, where the public was outraged by his behavior and embarrassed that a high-profile Frenchman would harm an animal.
Zouma has been condemned by French politicians and there are calls to remove him from the French national team.
In the meantime, the RSPCA is conducting its own inquiry into the abuse incidents.
“We’re investigating and the cats are safe and in our care,” the group said in a statement. “We have been dealing with this since before the clip went viral online and we need to follow the proper legal process and not discuss due to UK GDPR laws.”