LONDON: West Ham and France defender Kurt Zouma has apologised after a disturbing video surfaced of him kicking and slapping a cat, with the Premier League club publicly condemning the footage.
Zouma is seen in the clip dropping, kicking and slapping the animal, while laughter can be heard in the background.
The 27-year-old then chases the cat, before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
West Ham condemned Zouma's actions in a strongly worded statement following publication of the clip online.
"West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated," the club said in a statement.
"We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals."
The France international, who joined West Ham from Chelsea in August 2021, has also released a statement expressing his regret.
"I want to apologise for my actions," he said. "There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.
"I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
"They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again."
The RSPCA animal welfare charity described the video as "very upsetting".
"It's never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise," said a spokesman.
"We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare."