UK life insurance company, Vitality, has suspended its sponsorship of West Ham United after a video was released of Kurt Zouma kicking and hitting his cat.
The defender has been fined £250,000 by the Hammers and has had his cats taken away from him by the RSPCA, however still continued to play in the Watford draw the day after the story came to public attention.
It has now also been reported that Dagenham and Redbridge FC has banned his brother, Yoan Zouma, from competitive matches until the RSPCA has completed its current investigation.
Following this, rumours have sparked of this weekend’s match against Leicester FC that 27-year-old Zouma may not be allowed to play at the King Power Stadium.
Furthemore, the Premier League player has also been dropped by Adidas as a contracted athlete, whilst he has also lost his position as an ambassador for big cat rescue charity Seed, which is run by his wife.
A spokesperson for Heineken UK, West Ham’s beer and cider partner, stated that the firm was “appalled” by the player’s actions, and underlined that they welcome the actions that the club is taking.
In line with the organisation’s tweet reassuring the public that the cats are now safe, the BBC reported that an RSPCA spokesperson stated that the matter was already being dealt with before the video went viral, adding: “We continue to investigate so we cannot comment further at this time.”
Shortly after the video was released, a petition was created under ‘Prosecute Kurt Zouma & remove all his animals to a place of safety immediately!’. This has now reached 307,000 signings.
In a statement on 9 February, the club concluded: “West Ham United would like to reiterate our condemnation of Kurt’s actions and make it clear that the matter continues to be handled with the utmost seriousness.
“However, we believe it is now important to allow the RSPCA to conduct their investigation in a fair and thorough manner, and will be making no further comment at this stage.”