HomeSportTeam-mate defends Zouma

Team-mate defends Zouma

West Ham striker Michail Antonio has questioned why there are calls for team-martte Kurt Zouma to be sacked for kicking and slapping a cat when footballers convicted of racism are still allowed to play professionally.

Zouma has faced a fierce backlash after he was film kicking the cat in his £2 million (US$2,7 million) mansion. Sponsors Adidas have already dumped him while other sponsors have withdrawn their support from West Ham because of their weak response to his behaviour and for continuing to pick him.

Since the video was released on social media, Zouma has been hit with the maximum fine of two weeks’ wages by his club — £250 000 (US$338 768), which will be donated to animal welfare charities.

But West Ham team-mate Antonio today questioned the fairness of the public response, asking why some footballers who have been convicted of racism haven’t faced similar calls to be sacked from the game and lose their livelihoods.

It’s not clear which racism court convictions Michail Antonio was referring to given that no high-profile footballers have ever been found guilty in criminal proceedings.

In 2012, John Terry was found not guilty and was cleared of racially abusing fellow footballer Anton Ferdinand, after it was alleged he had described him as “black” and used extreme sexual swear words.

Terry was banned for four games by the Football Association and fined £220 000(US$298 115). He was also stripped of the England captaincy.

Elsewhere, Luis Suarez was given an eight-game ban and a £40 000 (US$54 202) fine by the FA after an independent regulatory commission found the then-Liverpool player guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. The case did not go to court.

Over the last 12 months, there have been examples of fans being jailed for racist abuse of footballers on social media.

In November, a supporter who live-streamed himself on Facebook racially abusing Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka after the Euro 2020 final was jailed for 10 weeks.

“I have got a question for you,” Antonio responded when asked about Zouma’s actions as he drove into West Ham’s training ground this morning.

“I’m not condoning a thing that he’s done — I don’t agree with a thing that he has done at all. But there is people that have been convicted in court for racism and that has played football afterwards. They got punished, they got a eight-game ban or something like that.

“But people are now calling for (Zouma) to be sacked, people to be sacked and lose their livelihood. I have just got to ask this question to everyone out there is, is what he has done worse than what the people have done who have been convicted for racism?”

West Ham are also counting the cost of their controversial decision to stick by their man and start Zouma in Tuesday night’s Premier League match against Watford, with life insurance company Vitality suspending their £500 000 (US$678 000)-a-year sponsorship.

Sponsors including Experience Kissimmee and Yield App are now evaluating their relationship with the east London club. Umbro condemned the abuse which was caught on camera, while Heineken said they were “appalled”.

Meanwhile, the RSPCA announced on Wednesday that they had seized the cats owned by Zouma, taking them in for a medical check-up.

The pets will remain in their care until their investigation is complete and could yet be returned to the player.

As well as his public apology, Zouma has apologised to his team-mates at their training ground. It is understood the £29,8 million (US$40,4 million) defender will be sent on an animal awareness course by his club as part of his punishment. — Daily Mail.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

NewsDay Zimbabwe will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.