West Ham’s Antonio Asks Whether Zouma Cat Abuse Is Worse Than Racism

West Ham United's French defender Kurt Zouma controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP
West Ham United’s French defender Kurt Zouma controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

West Ham’s Michail Antonio has questioned why there are calls for team-mate Kurt Zouma to be sacked for abusing his cat when footballers have been allowed to play after being found guilty of racism.

France international defender Zouma, who played against Watford in the Premier League on Tuesday, has been widely condemned after a video emerged of him dropping, kicking and slapping his pet.

Zouma, who has apologised, is under investigation by animal welfare charity RSPCA and his two cats have been taken into the care of the organisation.

READ ALSO: Zouma Loses Adidas Deal For Kicking Cat

West Ham have fined the 27-year-old “the maximum amount possible”, understood to be about £250,000 ($340,000).

More than 275,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Zouma to be prosecuted as the public backlash intensifies in a country renowned for its love of animals.

Zouma got a taste of the depth of feeling as he was relentlessly booed by Watford supporters this week, with even West Ham fans joining in some of the jeering.

But when asked about the incident during an interview with Sky Sports News, West Ham forward Antonio said while he did not condone Zouma’s actions, he felt there was a need for a wider debate.

“I’ve got a question for you. Do you think what he’s done is worse than racism?” Antonio said.

“I’m not condoning a thing that he’s done, I don’t agree with what he has done at all.

“But there’s people that have been convicted and been caught for racism, and have played football afterwards.

“They got an eight-game punishment or something like that, but people are now calling for people to be sacked, for them to lose their livelihood.

“I’ve just got to ask this question to everyone out there — is what he’s (Zouma) done worse than what the people have done that (were) convicted of racism?”

On Wednesday Adidas — the defender’s official personal kit supplier — confirmed it had cut ties with the player.

Insurance and investment company Vitality confirmed it was suspending sponsorship as West Ham’s official wellness partner and another sponsor, Experience Kissimmee, has ended its sponsorship.

The reaction has also been strong in France, with animal rights groups condemning Zouma’s behaviour.

The SPA animal welfare charity said the defender should never play for France again in a letter to the French Football Federation (FFF) seen by AFP.

FFF president Noel Le Graet said it was “obviously a shocking act of mistreatment.”

“This gratuitous, stupid and nasty act of violence appears all the more astonishing since I have never heard anyone speaking badly of Kurt Zouma. On the contrary, he is a boy known to be respectful,” Le Graet told AFP.

AFP

Zouma Loses Adidas Deal For Kicking Cat

West Ham United’s French defender Kurt Zouma warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has lost his deal with sportswear giant Adidas over a disturbing video showing him dropping, kicking and slapping his cat.

He was also fined the “maximum amount possible” for mistreating his cat as the RSPCA charity said it had taken two animals belonging to the France defender into care.

The RSPCA animal welfare organisation described the video as “very upsetting” and is leading the investigation while cooperating with police.

READ ALSO: Lukaku Ends Drought As Chelsea Inch Closer To First World Club Trophy

Around 200,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Zouma to be prosecuted as the public backlash intensifies in a country renowned for its love of animals.

West Ham issued a fresh statement on Wednesday saying Zouma was complying with the RSPCA, including delivering his two cats to the charity 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,” the club said.

“Separate to the RSPCA’s investigation and pending further sanction once the outcome of that process is determined, West Ham United can confirm that Kurt Zouma has been fined the maximum amount possible following his actions in the video that circulated.

“The player has immediately accepted the fine and has requested that it is donated to animal welfare charities.”

Reports said the fine would total around £250,000 ($340,000), with standard Premier League contracts allowing for a maximum fine of two weeks’ wages.

The RSPCA, which is working with police on the case, tweeted that the cats were “safe and in our care”.

“Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats,” said a spokesman. “They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vets and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues.

“We’re grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are leading the investigation.”

‘Very distressed’

Adidas, the defender’s official personal kit supplier, confirmed it had cut ties with Zouma, saying in a statement: “We have concluded our investigation and can confirm Kurt Zouma is no longer an Adidas-contracted athlete.”

Insurance and investment company Vitality announced it was suspending its sponsorship as West Ham’s “official wellness partner”, saying it was “distressed” by the video.

A spokesman for Heineken UK, West Ham’s “beer and cider partner”, said it was appalled at the contents of the video and welcomed the actions the club were taking.

West Ham had previously said they would be dealing with the matter internally, adding: “We would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.”

But Zouma, who had previously apologised for his actions, was nevertheless selected by manager David Moyes for Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Watford at the London Stadium.

Responding to criticism, Moyes insisted he was an “animal lover” but was adamant he had to do what was right for his club, who are fourth in the Premier League table.

Zouma got a taste of the depth of feeling as he was relentlessly booed by Watford supporters, with even West Ham fans joining in some of the jeering.

French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet said Wednesday it was “obviously a shocking act of mistreatment.”

“This gratuitous, stupid and nasty act of violence appears all the more astonishing since I have never heard anyone speaking badly of Kurt Zouma. On the contrary, he is a boy known to be respectful,” Le Graet told AFP.

Maggie Roberts, director of veterinary services for the Cats Protection charity, said West Ham’s decision to select Zouma “sends an appalling message to fans and the wider public”.

The reaction has also been strong in France, with animal rights groups condemning Zouma’s behaviour.

The SPA animal welfare charity said the defender should never play for France again in a letter to the French Football Federation seen by AFP.

Lampard Warns Abraham After Chelsea Crush Palace

Chelsea’s French defender Kurt Zouma (R) scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on October 3, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP)

 

Frank Lampard warned Tammy Abraham to respect the “rules” after the Chelsea striker argued with Cesar Azpilicueta over who should take a penalty in Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.

With Chelsea leading 3-0 in the second half, Abraham wanted to take the Blues’ second penalty of the match instead of Jorginho, who is the team’s spot-kick expert and had already scored one just minutes earlier.

Abraham and Timo Werner discussed who should have it before Chelsea captain Azpilicueta intervened in a briefly heated debate.

He took the ball out of Abraham’s hands and gave it to Jorginho, prompting a dismissive wave from the striker.

 

Chelsea’s French defender Kurt Zouma scores a goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on October 3, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP) 

 

But Jorginho scored again to prove Azpilicueta’s point before Chelsea boss Lampard made it clear to Abraham that he had been in the wrong.

“It’s been dealt with. I want leaders and I don’t mind a little bit of conflict. If Tammy wanted to take it because he wants a goal or whatever it was then he can get put in his place a little bit,” Lampard said.

“I appreciate his eagerness because his performance deserved a goal but the rules are you don’t jump up ahead of the list at any moment. So, dealt with.”

Abraham’s outburst, fuelled by his desire to score his first league goal this season, couldn’t overshadow Lampard’s pleasure as Chelsea got back on track.

 

Crystal Palace’s players stand during a minute’s silence for police officer Ratana, who was killed on duty, during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on October 3, 2020. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP) 

 

Hampered by a heel injury, Ben Chilwell had a delayed start to his first season with Chelsea following his £50 million ($64 million) move from Leicester in August.

But the England left-back is making up for lost time after delivering an influential performance in his third game following a pair of League Cup outings.

While Lampard has invested in a host of attacking talent since the end of last season, here it was Chilwell efforts that broke down Palace’s stubborn defence at Stamford Bridge.

Chilwell’s thumping finish put Chelsea ahead soon after half-time and he provided the assist for Kurt Zouma’s header as the Blues doubled their lead.

Jorginho’s penalty double ensured Chelsea would bounce back from their midweek League Cup defeat against Tottenham and end a run of two successive league games without a win.

 

Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on October 3, 2020. (Photo by NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP)

 

The defensive blunders that contributed to their 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion were erased and, crucially, Lampard’s men found their cutting edge against defensive opponents.

“Not too many put four past Crystal Palace. We just needed to up the urgency of our game. We needed to get Ben Chilwell into the game,” Lampard said.

We couldn’t allow Palace’s back four to say dealing with Chelsea’s front line was easy.

“Ben Chilwell was fantastic today. His ability to be so high up the pitch, and that’s not a bad thing, and his great quality on the ball.”

 

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (L) vies with Crystal Palace’s French-born Ghanaian striker Jordan Ayew during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on October 3, 2020. (Photo by NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP)

 

Knockout blow

Lampard makes six changes to the side that fell three goals down at West Brom last weekend.

With the experienced Azpilicueta and Jorginho back in the starting line-up, Chelsea looked more stable and mature.

The first half followed a familiar pattern for Chelsea, who often dominated games without applying the knockout blow last season.

But this time they had the solution as the lively Chilwell finally broke the deadlock in the 50th minute.

Palace defender Mamadou Sakho made a hash of clearing Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross and Azpilicueta hooked the ball to Abraham, whose determined header allowed Chilwell to fire home from six yards.

 

Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on October 3, 2020. (Photo by NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP) 

 

Chilwell was proving impossible for Palace to contain and he was catalyst for Chelsea’s second goal in the 66th minute.

Whipping a teasing cross into the Palace area from wide on the left, Chilwell found Zouma and the defender towered over Sakho to head home.

Chelsea were in control now and Jorginho made it three in the 78th minute when he slotted in a penalty after Abraham was fouled by Tyrick Mitchell.

Sakho conceded another penalty four minutes later and, after Abraham’s tantrum, Jorginho kept his focus to make it four.

 

 

-AFP

UCL: Chelsea Captain, Terry To Miss PSG Game

ChelseaChelsea FC captain, John Terry, will miss Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Paris St Germain at Stamford Bridge due to injury.

Diego Costa, Pedro and Kenedy were all involved in the team’s final training session before the game, but John Terry was absent as the 35-year-old central defender is still struggling with a hamstring problem that has kept him out of the last five matches.

Confirming the fears, Terry said on Instagram on Tuesday. “I’m gutted to be missing the PSG game.

“It’s so frustrating missing any game but these big Champions League nights at the Bridge are unbelievable and it hurts as a player not to be involved.

“I have thrown everything at my injury trying to get back fit but sometimes you have to let the injury settle. thankfully I’m on the mend and hope to be back soon.”

Diego Costa missed Saturday’s draw with Stoke because of a minor tendon injury, but he joined the group in training on Tuesday, as did Pedro who suffered a hamstring injury at Southampton.

John Terry and Kurt Zouma were the only absentees from the Chelsea first team squad.

PSG lead 2-1 from the first leg in Paris.

Kurt Zouma Out For Six Months, Chelsea Confirm

zoumaChelsea Football Club’s medical team have diagnosed that Kurt Zouma sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament during Sunday’s Premier League game against Manchester United.

Kurt will undergo surgery in the next 48 hours and is expected to be out for approximately six months.

Zouma also tweeted, “Scan today has shown I injured my anterior cruciate ligament. I will have surgery this week and will come back stronger.”

The France centre-back has made 32 appearances for Chelsea this term.

The Blues came from behind to earn a point courtesy of Diego Costa’s 91st-minute equaliser after Jesse Lingard had given Man-U the lead in the match played at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho, Matic Sent Off As Chelsea Lose At West Ham

ChelseaJose Mourinho and Nemanja Matic were both sent off as Chelsea’s troubles deepened courtesy of a 2-1 loss at West Ham.

Argentine striker, Mauro Zarate, gave West Ham the lead in the 17th minute at Upton Park. The ball broke to the edge of the box following a corner, and Zarate drove into the corner past Asmir Begovic.

Kurt Zouma’s header appeared to have crossed the line for an equalizer in the 35th minute but goal-line technology showed that part of the ball was still on the line.

Things got worse for Chelsea in the 44th minute as Nemanja Matic was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Chelsea coach Louro reacted angrily to Matic’s sending off  and was subsequently sent to the stands as well.

Words later filtered to match commentators after Mourinho failed to retake his position at the pitch side that the Portuguese had been sent off too.

Nonetheless, 10-man Chelsea showed character to get a deserved equalizer in the 56th minute after Zouma and Cahill challenged for Willian’s corner, the ball falling kindly for Cahill to send home.

However, Andy Carroll emerged from the bench to powerfully head in Aaron Cresswell’s cross with 10 minutes left to inflict another damaging defeat on Mourinho and the Blues.

The defeat becomes Chelsea’s fifth of the Premier League season as pressure continues to mount on Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea Defender Admits Man City Game ‘Will Be Difficult’

ChelseaChelsea defender, Kurt Zouma is expecting a tough match away to Manchester City in their Barclays Premier League Match Day 2 fixture on Sunday.

He is, however, relishing the challenge that awaits the team and this is because of the impressive performance he produced against Manchester City at the end of January, when the Premier League’s top two sides met at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea five points clear at the summit.

Four days earlier, Chelsea had beaten Liverpool to progress to the Capital One Cup final when Zouma shone from the off. It was enough to earn him only his second start in England’s top-flight for the visit of their nearest title rivals.

“It is a good memory,” he recalled in a chat with the official Chelsea website. “And it was an important stage in my development.

“First of all I played the game and I was really proud of that. We drew 1-1 and we defended well. For my part I think I did well against a good attack, helping the team to a draw.

“We know we are playing against a good team on Sunday and it will be difficult, but we have a chance to win. I think it will be a very interesting game.

“It’s a chance early in the season to show why we are champions. We want to defend our title. The season after a very good season is always hard but we have to show we are ready to try and do it.”

Zouma showed his versatility in the 2014/15 season when he lined up in central midfield for certain games, most notably the League Cup triumph over Tottenham at Wembley.

He had grown up as a right-sided defender but both in the pre-season game against Barcelona and the Community Shield he featured on the other side of the back four.

Cesc Fabregas would also make his 50th appearance for Chelsea if selected for the game.

The Spaniard’s 49 appearances to date have come in the Premier League (35), the FA Cup (1), the League Cup (4), the Champions League (8) and the recent Community Shield.

Capital One Cup: This Could Be Start Of Something Very Good – Terry

TerryThe Man of the Match in Chelsea’s Capital One Cup triumph, Captain John Terry, has been able to draw parallels with a decade ago as the current crop under the same manager quickly set their sights on more silverware this season.

Ten years after lifting his first Chelsea trophy, a very happy John Terry repeated the success but this time with the added bonus of his first cup final goal.

“This is the first one, it is massive,” he the Chelsea website.

“It meant an awful lot to us in 2004/05 in Jose’s first year here and it could be the start of something very good. Now we have to kick on with the League to focus on next but it’s a great day and a great win.

“I’m delighted with my goal and delighted with the team’s performance and lifting the trophy but you have to build on that. You have to set the foundations and we have done that, this is the first one and hopefully we can kick on.”

Terry, who also made his debut in the League Cup back in 1998, spoke about the strong desire among the current Chelsea crop to make history and the way they went about doing so at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.

“It is the start of something and we have to win trophies to be up there with some great sides, but we have won our first one now and in 2005 it inspired us and kicked us on and hopefully this will do the same.

“The pressure was there before the game but that is what cup finals do to you and I thought we handled the game very well.

“It was fairly even in the first half but we controlled it a little better in the second half and we are deserved winners.

“Spurs like to press, certainly in that first phase, so we tried to miss that out and get the ball into the front man a bit sooner which eliminated it a little bit, and I am delighted for Diego, he is in great goalscoring form and it is great to see him do it on the big stage as well.”

One of the game’s big talking points was Jose Mourinho’s solution to being robbed of the services of Nemanja Matic and needing to deal the Tottenham central attacking threat of Harry Kane with Christian Eriksen behind. The manager deployed Kurt Zouma further forward than normal with Gary Cahill and Terry paired in central defence.

“We did a little bit of work on it in the week and we shuffled it, so the manager does keep everyone guessing and on our toes,” said Terry.

“He said in the team meeting everyone has had a part to play in this competition and it is hard to leave some people out, but that is why he is the best because he makes good decisions.

“In this competition he made it very clear from the outset that we were out to win it and credit to the manager and the squad.

“The squad is moving in the right direction with some young players and hungry and experienced players as well, it is a great mix.

“A few teams over the years have written this competition off but it has always been close to my heart, and to be in this great stadium lifting this trophy is a really great feeling.”

It was the Blues skipper who fired his side into the lead against Tottenham to turn the Capital One Cup final tide against North London and in favour of the west, with the 2-0 win sealed when Diego Costa’s strike found the net and the Chelsea defence held firm.

Chelsea Wins Capital One Cup

chelseaJose Mourinho has claimed his first trophy since returning for his second spell as Chelsea manager, as Chelsea emerged winner of the Capital One Cup over Tottenham at Wembley.

Jose Mourinho was delighted after seeing his side crowned Capital One Cup kings, the club’s fifth success in the competition’s history.

Mourinho’s mastery of the big selection decision was also demonstrated again by his deployment of Kurt Zouma, a central defender by trade, in midfield to fulfill the role left behind by the suspended Nemanja Matic to outstanding effect.

John Terry, Man of the Match striked with a goal on the stroke of half-time.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Diego Costa, scored with an assist pass from Cesc Fabregas which deflected off the leg of Kyle Walker.

Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho started by praising the opposition saying, ”First of all I want to say that in the middle of my happiness is space to think about Mauricio Pochettino, his staff and Tottenham as a team and a club, I met him in Spain many years ago as a player and then when he was a young manager when I was at Real Madrid. He came to England, proved himself, nobody gave him anything for free.”

The Chelsea’s boss added:  ”The second thing I want to say is that now I don’t think about John Terry, Azpilicueta or Diego Costa; I think about Courtois, because without him there would have been no final, we would have lost against Liverpool. I think about Matic, Filipe Luis and Oscar, the guys who didn’t have a chance to play. I think about Schwarzer, Salah, Schurrle, all the guys that started the season with us, they are all winners.”

Despite a career laden with trophies, Mourinho claimed this was the most important final of his time in the game and Chelsea were never seriously troubled once Christian Eriksen’s early free-kick rebounded to safety off the woodwork.

Mourinho also spoke about Diego Costa saying ”He needs the team, without them it’s difficult to do anything. He needs to keep his nature as a person and a player. He played a final at the top of his motivation, there was no yellow card because he did nothing to deserve a yellow card.