The RSPCA has “started the process of bringing a prosecution” against West Ham defender Kurt Zouma and his brother Yoan after the duo filmed themselves appearing to attack the former’s pet cat.
The video came to light in February and led to a public outcry against the France international, who has continued to be selected by David Moyes in spite of the controversy, insisting that the club would handle the matter “internally”.
The Hammers have already fined Zouma “the maximum amount possible” – reported to be £250,000 – and the 27-year-old apologised.
The player’s two cats have since been taken into the care of the RSPCA, which has now confirmed it will aim to prosecute Zouma and his brother under the Animal Welfare Act.
A statement from the RSPCA read: “Following a full and thorough investigation, we have started the process of bringing a prosecution 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.”
Vitality suspended its sponsorship of West Ham following the incident, while Adidas cut ties with Zouma.
A statement released to the media from the Premier League club read: “West Ham United is aware of the RSPCA statement in relation to its investigation involving Kurt Zouma. Kurt continues to co-operate fully, supported by the club.
“It is our understanding that Kurt’s cats have been checked by a vet, are in good health and have suffered no physical injuries. For legal reasons, neither Kurt or the club will be making any further comment at this time.”
Yoan Zouma has not been selected by his club, Dagenham and Redbridge, since the incident but the National League club confirmed on Wednesday the player would now be considered for selection again.
A club statement said: “Dagenham & Redbridge FC note the decision of the RSPCA to charge Yoan Zouma under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
“Whilst Yoan continues to fully co-operate with the RSPCA, as this matter has now progressed further, Dagenham & Redbridge FC feel it is no longer appropriate for either Yoan or the club to make any further statement.
“Dagenham & Redbridge FC maintain their position in that the club continues to condemn all animal cruelty.
“Since the allegation, and whilst investigations were taking place, Dagenham & Redbridge FC took the decision that Yoan should not play football for the club.
“Four weeks have now elapsed however since the incident, and the club feels that any further suspension from the team would be detrimental to both the club and Yoan. A decision has been made therefore for Yoan to be available to play.
“The club reserves the right to take further action if deemed necessary after conclusion of the court proceedings.”