LET me be absolutely clear – there is no defence for Kurt Zouma’s actions.
I, like anyone who watched the video that circulated this week, was shocked by what I saw.
Kurt’s behaviour in no way reflected the standards and values that we hold dear at West Ham United – and of course those of our pet-loving nation.
Our stance on this as a Club has been clear from the very outset – we unreservedly condemn his actions and would never condone any form of cruelty towards animals.
We have acted swiftly to fine him the maximum amount available to us.
Every single penny of the fine handed down to him will be given to animal welfare charities.
Kurt accepted this sanction immediately without reservation and was in full agreement that the funds be donated to ensure some good is done.
We believe this is absolutely the right thing to do and the Club is already in direct contact with a number of organisations which will ensure this money is put to support their fantastic and vital work.
Kurt and the Club are also fully helping the investigation being undertaken by the RSPCA, which is the sole leading agency handling the case.
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At every stage, the Club has set out to take the appropriate steps in the circumstances and we must allow the investigation to conclude fairly. We trust and respect the RSPCA’s process, which will determine the final conclusions and any further sanctions that are imposed on the player.
I feel it is important and appropriate at this stage to stress that Kurt Zouma, the person, is entirely aware of the severity of his actions.
It has been said before but I can say it again now, because I have seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears – he is extremely remorseful.
He has said sorry, and has also apologised sincerely to everyone at the Club and the wider public.
That is an important first step on what will be a journey of re-education and atonement.
And it is a journey we will fully support him on.
West Ham United is renowned for its reputation as a family club. We care deeply about our community and the people within it.
The Club and the players themselves support dozens of initiatives throughout East London and Essex which help the young and the old, the lonely and the disadvantaged.
We also strive to be a club that is inclusive, progressive and leads the way when times are tough.
To know that a member of the West Ham family has fallen short of these values hurts tremendously.
But our values also extend to giving a second chances for those who are remorseful and want to change.
Our policy around unacceptable behaviour has always been two-fold – where possible to eradicate and rehabilitate.
Our approach, which to date has seen many successes, has always been to attempt to understand the root cause of such behaviours and work with the relevant agencies to develop effective strategies to address them.
At West Ham United, the opportunity of re-education is there for anyone who genuinely wants it. And I know for certain that Kurt Zouma does.
He sincerely wants to address what he did.
Separate to the investigation, we are already discussing the relevant educational programmes that could help Kurt and support the work of the RSPCA and other animal welfare charities at the same time.
We believe he needs to first learn more about the impact of his actions, and then help in raising awareness of animal cruelty, and why we must combat it.
I realise there will be some who don’t agree with that course of action, those who would like to see Kurt have his livelihood taken away and we acknowledge their hurt and strength of feeling.
But I believe that we live in a society in which the vast majority of people still value the fundamental human qualities of forgiveness and redemption.
We, as a club will work hard alongside Kurt, to ensure that his genuine remorse and regret leads to a determination to address the situation and turn something negative into long-lasting positives.
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