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A West Ham supporting cat lover writes

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 9 February 2022

Goaded by a couple of readers, I try to articulate how I feel about the video of West Ham’s highest paid player, Kurt Zouma, kicking his own cat around the house. In short: not good at all.

I start on the basis that I assume that most of the grossly overpaid poseurs who play Premiership football are yobs and often pretty unsavoury chaps. Their treatment of women is often reported in the papers as appalling but in a nation of animal lovers Zouma’s cat gets more sympathy than some blonde young lady abused or used and discarded by xxxxxxx (fill in any number of names here).

Should West Ham have played Zouma against Watford this week? I would have. I want West Ham to win the Premiership and Zouma is a good player. Were it Issa Diop I would have made a principled stand and sacked him at once. Diop is a liability. His partner in the back line Zouma is rather useful. Call me cynical but there are a number of folks in the Premiership who have done far worse than kicked a cat.

I have owned, largely rescue, cats for more than twenty years. I also grew up in a cat household. I would go utterly mental if I saw anyone abusing my cat. Indeed, in Greece, where folks treat cats rather badly, I have intervened in open air restaurants when little kids chuck stones at or hit out at cats begging at the table.

I see that Mr Zouma might face a trial, in his native France for this crime and four years in jail. That he may well lose his place in the French national side. Is this really a proportionate punishment for kicking a cat? Obviously if Zouma was a Tottenham player then I would agree that, if anything, such a punishment was far too lenient and that Spurs should face an additional 60 point deduction for having signed such a beast.

But in the case of Zouma, the sanction should fit the crime. He will forever be taunted by supporters over this incident and I predict that he will leave the English game well before he had planned to depart. Out of the Premiership his international career will end far sooner than he expected. He has been fined by West Ham – a paltry £250,000 which is two week’s wages. I would hope that the fine is quadrupled, with all the money going to cat charities as a condition of him staying at the club. Perhaps he might agree to spend the summer break working in an RSPCA cat shelter. That would teach him a lesson.

But in a nation that still worships wife beaters George Best and Paul Gascoigne is it really right that we demand the cancellation, the expulsion from the game or the imprisonment of a man who kicked a cat? Is that proportionate? I think not.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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