Kurt Zouma: ‘Animal lover’ David Moyes ‘100% disappointed’ in defender but ‘responsible for results’

Espnmyid
Kurt Zouma, West Ham, Watford
David Moyes says he “can’t understand” the actions of Kurt Zouma, who was filmed kicking his pet cat on social media

West Ham manager David Moyes says he is a “human being and an animal lover” but “responsible for getting results” after deciding to start Kurt Zouma in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Watford.

The Hammers have “unreservedly condemned” the defender after videos emerged on social media of him kicking and slapping his pet cat.

Zouma has apologised and the club will deal with the incident “internally”.

Asked whether he was upset with Zouma, Moyes replied: “Oh, 100%.”

He told BBC Match of the Day: “It’s something we’re all disappointed with and something we can’t understand.

“He’ll learn from it [but] today I had to pick a football team that gave me the best chance of winning the game as manager of West Ham.

“I know how people feel, but I’m also a football manager here.

“My feeling was that Kurt has apologised and I understand a lot of people will not just be accepting of an apology. But to me he came out and [apologised] honestly and I had to do my job.”

Zouma, who was booed by both sets of supporters during Tuesday’s match, said in a statement earlier on Tuesday: “I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.”

An Essex Police spokesperson said: “We have recently been made aware that this incident may have taken place in Essex and we are liaising with the RSPCA and urgent enquiries are ongoing.”

‘Something we didn’t expect of Kurt’

Moyes reiterated his stance in his post-match news conference, saying that the impact of the distressing footage had been felt throughout the team.

“I have spoken to [Zouma] and we will move on as much as we can,” said the 58-year-old.

“We have all felt it through the team and the club. We are all of the same feeling that it is something we didn’t expect of Kurt. We didn’t see that in his character or from him in anything we’ve come across with him.

“We wanted to get this game out of the way and we understand nobody will be pleased about it. It is a poor situation.

“I am someone who cares a lot about my dogs and horses and all the people I am connected with.

“I think the club would rather deal with it all in time and they will let you know what the action is.”

‘A miscalculation by the club’

BT Sport pundit and former West Ham midfielder Joe Cole called the decision to start the French defender “a miscalculation” by the Hammers.

“From West Ham’s perspective, I can see why they probably want to let it settle, get the game out of the way, and deal with it internally. But he’s here, he’s starting,” he said.

“It’s an unusual disciplinary matter. I don’t remember seeing animal cruelty within football. I’m surprised he’s in tonight.”

Former England midfielder and fellow pundit Owen Hargreaves added: “I’m really surprised. He’s their best centre-back but I thought he’d be out for at least a couple of games.

“This won’t be the end of this. It puts a lot of pressure on him and the football club.”

Jarrod Bowen scored the only goal of the game at London Stadium, his long-range strike taking a deflection off Watford’s Samir on its way in.

‘They clearly think they can get away with it’

Meanwhile, more than 80,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Zouma to be prosecuted, while Experience Kissimmee, one of West Ham’s sponsors, has said it “will be evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club” after he was selected for the Watford game.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the West Ham Supporters’ Trust said it “condemns the actions” of Zouma and it is understood they feel Zouma should have been suspended until club disciplinary procedures have been concluded.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, wildlife television presenter and conservationist Chris Packham described Moyes’ decision to start Zouma on Tuesday as “disgraceful” and said the manager “proved he doesn’t care” about the public standards footballers set.

“It’s not acceptable,” said Packham.

“We cannot condone this behaviour. West Ham should have sent a clear message. People were disgusted by this. Fans were booing. The decision shows a complete disconnect from them.

“This isn’t an internal matter. It’s a crime. They clearly think they can get away with it because it’s an animal and not a person.

“Look at Marcus Rashford – he’s a paragon of excellence – a true role model. There’s potential that kids will see how Kurt Zouma treats defenceless animals and want to emulate him.”

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