West Ham United manager David Moyes defended his decision to include Kurt Zouma in his starting lineup for Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Watford but admitted his dismay at a video showing the defender kicking his pet cat.
Frenchman Zouma has been widely condemned after the video, filmed by his brother, showed him dropping and kicking the cat at his home and hurling a shoe at the animal.
West Ham issued a statement earlier in the day denouncing their player while Essex Police and the player’s sponsor Adidas both said they were investigating the incident.
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Zouma, who apologised for his behaviour, was booed by sections of the crowd on Tuesday and afterwards Moyes was asked whether starting him sent out the correct message.
“I am really disappointed and the club have taken all the actions they can do at the moment and are working on it behind the scenes,” Moyes told reporters.
“My job is to try and pick a team which gives me the best chance at West Ham and Kurt was part of that team.
“I was really disappointed with what I saw and what I was told. But overall my job tonight was to get a win for West Ham, of course there are people who are disappointed with that and I understand that totally.”
Wildlife television presenter Chris Packham questioned Moyes’ decision, saying on Twitter: “Tonight some humans decided that it was more important to allow a man who kicks defenceless fragile animals the opportunity to kick a ball for entertainment.”
While Moyes said he opted to play Zouma for football reasons, he could not hide his disgust.
Asked if he had seen the video, he said: “Yes I have. I was really, really disappointed as I am a big animal lover and someone who cares a lot about my dogs and horses.
“We have all felt it through the team and the club. But we are all on the same feeling it was something which was completely out of order and something we did not expect from Kurt, we did not see that in his character.
“We’ve not see that from him in anything we have come across with him so we are really disappointed.”
West Ham sponsors Experience Kissimmee confirmed that they would re-evaluate their relationship with the club after Zouma was named in Tuesday’s lineup.
“It was disheartening to learn that the player Kurt Zouma was part of the starting line in West Ham United’s game tonight,” Experience Kissimmee tweeted. “As we wait for further information from WHU, we will be evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club.”
West Ham have said they would deal with Zouma internally. Asked what the punishment might be, Moyes said: “I think the club would rather deal with that and in time they will let you know what the action is.”