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

Tottenham Suffer First Defeat To West Ham At New Stadium

West Ham United’s Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (centre left) and West Ham United’s Scottish midfielder Robert Snodgrass (centre right) celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on April 27, 2019. West Ham won the game 1-0.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Tottenham was beaten for the first time at their new stadium as Michail Antonio fired West Ham to a surprise 1-0 victory over their London rivals on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side had won all four matches at their new £1 billion Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

But Antonio’s clinical second-half strike ended that run as the West Ham winger became the first visiting player to score in the plush arena.

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Third-placed Tottenham’s second defeat in their last three Premier League games put a dent in their bid to finish in the top four.

They hold a three-point lead over fourth-placed Chelsea and are four points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, with both teams in action on Sunday.

It was a frustrating warm-up for Tottenham’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Ajax in north London on Tuesday.

Pochettino had insisted Tottenham’s first European semi-final since the 1984 UEFA Cup was less significant than their top four challenge.

But the Tottenham manager’s team selection told a different story.

Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen was absent with a reported injury as Pochettino made four changes, including resting Kieran Tripper, Victor Wanyama and Fernando Llorente.

Pochettino revealed this week that injured striker Harry Kane hopes to be fit for the Champions League final if Tottenham make it and the England captain was watching from the stands as his club’s unbeaten start in the new stadium came to an end.

Growing In Confidence

With Son Heung-min suspended for the Ajax first leg, Pochettino had no reason to rest South Korea forward against the Hammers and he was swiftly into the action as he raced away for a shot that cleared the bar.

Son should have done better on that occasion and he fluffed his lines again with a low shot that was too close to Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski after Dele Alli’s pass gave him a clear sight of goal.

West Ham finally broke out of their own half when Ryan Fredericks tested Hugo Lloris from long-range, but Tottenham remained on top as Lucas Moura drilled just wide of the far post.

A flowing Tottenham move unlocked the West Ham defence and Son’s blocked effort dropped perfectly for Christian Eriksen, but the Dane smashed his close-range shot straight at Fabianski.

Tottenham found it tougher to maintain any momentum in the second half, with Son’s unsuccessful penalty appeal, after being bundled over by Arthur Masuaku, made more in hope than expectation.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team were growing in confidence and they ended Tottenham’s unblemished record in their new arena in the 67th minute.

Marko Arnautovic chipped a superb pass towards Antonio and the winger controlled on his chest in the six-yard box before blasting a powerful finish past Lloris.

Celebrating with a bizarre bouncing motion, Antonio staged a joyous jig in front of the West Ham fans and he almost had them on their feet again in the closing minutes when his shot was pushed over by Lloris.

Tottenham looked tired in the closing stages, but they could have denied West Ham their first away win of 2019 when Vincent Janssen’s stoppage-time header was cleared off the line by Fabian Balbuena.

AFP

FA Cup: West Ham’s Late Goal Sends Liverpool Out

LiverpoolWest Ham United have dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup in an extra-time thriller at Upton Park.

After a drab goalless draw at Anfield a week and a half ago, both teams produced a more entertaining match.

Michail Antonio had given West Ham the lead on the stroke of half-time before Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick levelled it up just after the break.

The second half saw both teams miss a lot of chances with Christian Benteke guilty of a notable miss in the 56th minute.

West Ham also seemed to have had a valid penalty denied when Tiago Ilori pulled down Valencia in the box.

Daniel Sturridge’s well taken shot also missed the goal by inches in the 108th as the match seemed to be heading for penalties.

Liverpool, however, were left to rue their wasted chances as Angelo Ogbonna headed home Dimitri Payet’s free-kick in the 121st minute.

Klopp made 10 changes from the side that threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Sunderland on Saturday. Only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet kept his place.

Five members of their starting line-up had never previously started a Premier League game.