LONDON (Reuters) – West Ham United coach David Moyes said disgraced Kurt Zouma remains available to play against Leicester City in the Premier League at the weekend, despite further action being taken after a video emerged showing the defender abusing his pet cats.
Animal charity the RSPCA have taken Zouma’s cats into their care after a video filmed by Zouma’s brother Yoan and posted on social media showing the West Ham defender dropping a tabby cat and kicking it across the floor went viral.
West Ham’s sponsor Vitality has suspended its partnership with the club over its handling of the matter, while Adidas have dropped their sponsorship of Zouma.
Zouma was picked for West Ham’s midweek Premier League clash with Watford – to widespread condemnation – but Moyes insisted that any reaction to the defender’s inclusion will not affect his thinking ahead of the weekend.
“He is available to play,” Moyes told a news conference on Friday. “There are different views whether he should be available. We decided he should. I stand by that.
“I’d say right away that we’re completely upset by it as well. There’s nobody more disappointed than me or the club itself.
“For the West Ham supporters disappointed by it, I’ve got to say we’re really disappointed by it as well. We’re making sure animal charities will benefit from it. It’s a terrible situation, nobody’s hiding it, but we are trying to make some good come from bad.”
Calls for Zouma to be sacked grew after Moyes selected him for Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Watford, with another club sponsor, Experience Kissimmee, saying it has ended its sponsorship after learning that the player had started the game.
An online petition to have Zouma prosecuted has been signed by over 310,000 people, while the player’s brother Yoan has been dropped by his fifth-tier club Dagenham & Redbridge.
His teammate Michail Antonio, however, questioned the logic of those calling for Zouma to be sacked and asked whether what the Frenchman had done was worse than racism, which has previously led to players being banned but then allowed to resume their careers.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Hugh Lawson)