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West Ham’s mixed messages

West Ham’s mixed messages

The public were appalled by Kurt Zouma’s cruelty towards his cat. So why, when West Ham had condemned his behaviour, did they allow him to play immediately after the video had emerged?


Transcript

Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today, have West Ham permanently damaged their reputation?

***

Earlier this week, a disturbing video emerged of West Ham’s Kurt Zouma kicking and slapping his pet cat. 

Condemnation was swift. 

“I couldn’t watch it all, I just, I felt sick, I felt… I just felt sick. I still do now. I’m not somebody that cries often but I just cried. And that might sound weak to some listeners but it’s abhorrent what he’s done. You know the cat that he’s hurt, they can’t speak to him, animals can’t speak.”

Talksport

The RSPCA removed Kurt Zouma’s pets from his home. Adidas revoked his boot sponsorship deal. 

West Ham fined him two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, and donated the money to animal welfare charities. 

“West Ham have also released a statement this afternoon… now in it they say that they and Kurt Zouma are cooperating fully with both the investigation by the RSPCA and the investigation by Essex police. They say the player himself is extremely remorseful and they say that both the player and the club fully understand the depth of feeling and the need for action to be taken.”

Sky Sports

***


But did West Ham really understand the depth of feeling?

If they did, surely they wouldn’t have allowed Kurt Zouma to play against Watford on Tuesday. 

Actions speak louder than words and by putting Kurt Zouma on the team sheet, West Ham’s actions made their words look empty. 

“West Ham Season Ticket holder and columnist and broadcaster Dawn Neesom… I’ll start with you. I know that you were shocked when you heard that this guy was going to be played by his team last night. Would you agree with me that it was basically the club sticking two fingers up at everybody… their own supporters, everybody in the country and saying whatever we might say about taking this seriously, actually because we’re playing him tonight, we couldn’t give a stuff.”

“I think there was a lot of hypocrisy involved and I was, as I said Richard, absolutely stunned when he was selected. I just thought at the very least don’t play him tonight.”

Good Morning Britain

Yet again a club seemed to be putting sporting success ahead of anything else. 

***

In a high-stakes, high-value environment, clubs want their best players on the pitch at all times. 

And often, scandals die down and players can get on with their careers. 

But it does seem like West Ham misjudged the mood

This was how David Moyes reacted to the video of his player kicking and slapping a cat.

“Have you seen the video?”

“Yes, I have, yeah.”

“And how did you feel when you saw it?”

“As I said, really, really disappointed because I’m a big animal lover…”

Project Football

And this is how he justified picking Kurt Zouma for the game against Watford.

“The club have taken all the actions they can do at the moment and they’re working on that behind the scenes. My job is to try and pick a team and pick the best team which gives me the best chance at West Ham and Kurt was part of that team.”

Sky Sports

But West Ham didn’t need to play Kurt Zouma against Watford – a team second bottom of the table that’s only won four matches this season – which makes you wonder why they did it.

Kurt Zouma faces a long road ahead. The RSPCA and Essex police are still investigating. There’s even a chance he may face prosecution in his native France.

But West Ham – a club usually thought of as a club that does excellent work in the community – has some soul-searching to do too. 

All because of another footballing decision.

***

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and produced by Ella Hill.