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West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has been charged with three offences under the Animal Welfare Act after kicking his cat.
The charges relate to footage of the player injuring his cat, which began circulating on social media back in February.
In the upsetting footage, the French footballer can be seen volleying his pet across the kitchen before slapping it while laughing.
His brother and fellow footballer Yoan has also been charged for his involvement, having filmed and uploaded the clip onto Snapchat.
The two are set to appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (24 May) for a preliminary hearing following a joint investigation from the RSPCA and Essex Police.
Days after the video was shared by The Sun, West Ham fined Kurt two weeks' wages – reportedly £250,000 ($339,000) – and the payment was donated to nine different animal welfare charities.
The 27-year-old athlete – who is an ambassador for a French animal charity – was widely criticised for the incident and at the time issued an apology.
In a statement to Sky News, he said: "I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.
"I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
"They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again."
Although Kurt was allowed to play for West Ham in their Premier League match against Watford in February – his first match since the cat controversy – he was heavily booed in the London Stadium.
Yoan, 24, was temporarily suspended by Dagenham & Redbridge amid the backlash before being allowed to return to the team in March.
He too issued an apology which was published on Dagenham & Redbridge’s official website, stating: "I deeply regret my involvement in the video that has been widely circulated and unreservedly apologise, not only for my actions, but for the upset and distress this will have caused to so many people.
"I am now taking time to reflect on what I have done but wish to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident and not something that I am proud of."
Update on viral footage of cats— RSPCA (England & Wales) (@RSPCA_official) February 9, 2022
We'd like to reassure people that we're investigating and the cats are safe and in our care. We have been dealing with this since before the clip went viral online and we need to follow the proper legal process and not discuss due to UK GDPR laws. pic.twitter.com/LticInSmpn
Kurt's cats were taken into the care of the RSPCA where an initial check-up from a vet confirmed they had not suffered any injuries.
In a statement shared in March, the animal welfare charity said: "Following a full and thorough investigation, we have started the process of bringing prosecution proceedings against Kurt Zouma and Yoan Zouma under the Animal Welfare Act.
"The two cats continue to be cared for by the RSPCA. We will be in a position to release more information once a court date is confirmed."
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