The Labour leader said the club had made a ‘mistake’ playing the France international at the Watford game on Tuesday.
10 February 2022
Sir Keir Starmer has said West Ham should drop “cruel” Kurt Zouma from the team as he criticised their response to a video showing the player kicking a cat.
The France international defender, who was selected against Watford in the Premier League on Tuesday night, has been widely condemned after the video emerged of him dropping, kicking and slapping the pet.
Zouma, who is under investigation by the RSPCA after his two cats were taken into the care of the charity, has been fined “the maximum amount possible” by West Ham.
But Sir Keir has criticised the club’s response to the incident, saying it “needs to do the right thing, which is to drop him”.
Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, the Labour leader said: “I don’t know what they were thinking in playing him the other night.
“That was just a mistake.
“It’s such a bizarre thing to be so cruel like that.
“It’s very, very odd, but I think the club needs to do the right thing, which is to drop him.”
Asked if football clubs in general should do more to ensure their players were held up as “decent role models”, Sir Keir said: “I think they should.
“I think a lot of clubs do this, it is a million miles from where we were 10, 20 years ago.
“But you know, West Ham had a choice,” he said, adding that the club should not have included him at the Watford game on Tuesday.
“I think a lot of their own fans think they shouldn’t have played him and they made a mistake in my view,” he said.
The Labour leader’s comments come after West Ham said Zouma had been fined the “maximum amount possible” – two weeks’ wages, reported to be in the region of £250,000 – which will be donated to animal welfare charities.
Zouma, who joined the Hammers from Chelsea in August 2021, also released a statement, apologising for his actions and expressing his regret.
Meanwhile, the club is still facing pressure to take tougher action against Zouma, which has intensified after Dagenham’s decision to suspend his brother.
Yoan Zouma, 23, who is reported to have filmed the video, will not play for the National League club until the RSPCA has completed its probe.
The RSPCA swiftly rebuked the “very upsetting” video after it surfaced online and will be leading the investigation while co-operating with Essex Police.
The animal charity said it had been dealing with the issue before the video went viral and would continue its investigations.
West Ham previously said in a statement: “Kurt and the club are co-operating fully with the investigation and the player has willingly complied with the steps taken in the initial stage of the process, including delivering his family’s two cats to the RSPCA for assessment.
“Kurt is extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feeling surrounding the incident and the need for action to be taken.”