Kurt Zouma will remain available to play for West Ham amid an animal abuse inquiry and manager David Moyes hopes the public can forgive the embattled defender.
Zouma was fined two weeks’ salary and lost his sponsorship deal with Adidas after he was filmed kicking and slapping a cat, while Moyes came under scrutiny for opting to start the France international in a game on Tuesday hours after the club condemned Zouma's actions.
Moyes on Friday described Zouma's behaviour in the video as “diabolical” but also said the 27-year-old player will be available on Sunday when fourth-placed West Ham visits Leicester in the English Premier League.
"We as a club took the decision that we’d make him available and I stand by that,” Moyes said at a news conference. “I’m not condoning him. His actions were terrible. We all accept that they were diabolical ... but we’ve chosen to play him and we stand by that.”
Moyes understands “the criticism of me personally" but said he's an animal lover and “I know where my own moral compass is.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has custody of Zouma’s two cats while it investigates video footage that was shared widely on social media and led to Zouma apologizing.
“I don’t think a club could have taken more action any quicker than what they’ve done at the moment,” Moyes said “They've fined him maximum wages.”
His exact salary has not been disclosed but British media reported the fine by West Ham to be more than $300,000. Zouma requested the fine be donated to animal welfare charities.
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The RSPCA has provided courses to Zouma to educate him about the proper treatment of animals, Moyes said.
“We’re so disappointed, it’s completely out of character from Kurt,” the manager said. “We’ve never seen this in him. He’s a really good lad. As a club, we’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure that we resolve it.”
Zouma is “incredibly remorseful,” Moyes added.
“In life sometimes you need a bit of forgiveness. He’s hoping that he’s forgiven for a bad action. We mustn’t forget that many of us through our lives will make mistakes and you’re hoping that there are people out there who are going to give you a little bit of forgiveness.”
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