West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has admitted to kicking and slapping his pet cat in a video that was posted by his brother on Snapchat on Feb. 6. The 27-year-old Premier League footballer has been facing backlash from football fans and netizens as he pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty offenses under the Animal Welfare Act during his hearing at the Thames Magistrates Court in east London on Tuesday. 

According to BBC Sports, the disturbing video came to light when a woman who was about to go on a date with Kurt's brother Yoan, saw the footage on Snapchat and got alarmed by what she witnessed. This prompted her to cancel her date with Yoan and told him she did not want to associate with anyone who found Kurt’s actions funny.

During the hearing, Zouma apologized for the distressing footage that was recorded and shared by his brother for its supposed entertainment value. The player’s brother also pleaded guilty to one offense during the hearing after the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) concluded its investigations. Prosecutors said the incident has sparked a series of copycat animal cruelty cases that were filmed and shared online raising alarm for animal welfare campaigners. 

The 40-second video clip captured Zouma kicking his Bengal cat across the kitchen before he threw a pair of shoes at it and slapped its head. He was also heard in the video saying, “I swear I'll kill it, I swear I'll kill it.”

Apparently, Zouma’s actions stemmed from the cat having ripped and damaged a chair in their home. He even had his 7-year-old son assist in holding one of the cats while he slapped its head. The player could be heard laughing in the background as his brother filmed and shared it online with laughing emojis.

West Ham imposed a fine on Zouma in relation to the incident and was ordered to make donations to nine animal welfare charities in the UK as well as overseas. However, despite these amends, West Ham has been heavily criticized for allowing Zouma to play for the club after the incident triggered football fans to boo the defender on the field.

Zouma has since agreed to have his Bengal male cats re-homed under the protection of the RSPCA. The cats have been assessed by an independent vet who said there were no remaining signs of injuries on the felines when they were examined.

Meanwhile, West Ham fined Zouma £250,000 ($314,000). The defender also lost a substantial sponsorship deal with Adidas and was also skipped over by the French national team. Proceedings have been adjourned until sentencing which is set on June 1. 

bengal-cat-6307537_960_720 Representation Image Bengal Cat pet walking Jeanette1980/Pixabay