West Ham United footballer Kurt Zouma has pleaded guilty to animal abuse charges after he was filmed harming his pet cat.
The 27-year-old France international admitted to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
In February, Zouma’s younger brother, Yoan, had filmed him kicking his Bengal cat across his kitchen, before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
The footage of the abuse was shared on the social media platform Snapchat to widespread outrage.
Prosecutor Hazel Stevens told the court that Zouma had said he would “kill” his cat for apparently damaging a chair in his home.
“Since this footage was put in the public domain,” Stevens said, “there has been a spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites”.
“Their behaviour falls short of what is expected of a high-profile image,” she added.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) took Kurt Zouma’s two pet cats into care after the incident and launched a legal case.
West Ham United initially fined Zouma the maximum two weeks’ wages, while the player also lost a sponsorship deal with Adidas. But the London club decided not to suspend the player and even selected him to play in a match on the day the incident came to light.
West Ham said that the cats had “not suffered any physical injury” and that Zouma’s fine had been donated to animal welfare organisations.
On Tuesday, the 27-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, while another charge was dismissed.
Yoan Zouma, 24, also admitted to one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his brother to commit an offence. He was suspended in February by fifth-tier English football club Dagenham & Redbridge.
Both men will be sentenced on 1 June.