Another day another PR disaster as the Kurt Zouma debacle rumbles on like a juggernaut without any brakes.
When the story broke I honestly thought it was a joke; some online wag just got clever with a new software package. But it was true.
Zouma had kicked his cat across the kitchen and laughed as the poor animal slid head first into a cupboard door.
Let’s be absolutely clear; it was cruel, sadistic and totally unacceptable. But nobody would have been any the wiser had his brother Yoan not filmed the incident and posted it on Snapchat.
It only proves how naïve some footballers can be; they demonstrate an alarming lack of self- awareness that is difficult to believe. Do they really think their actions can pass without consequence, particularly with the world and his wife watching on a variety of platforms?
Zouma’s brother was suspended by Dagenham and Redbridge until the RSPA investigation was complete.
In all honesty that’s exactly what West Ham should have done with Kurt Zouma. However, the club typically made a pig’s ear of it.
They issued a statement condemning him but he was still allowed to play against Watford. According to David Moyes, the board gave him a free hand in the decision to select him.
I find that surprising; not because Moyes isn’t capable of handling the flack but more the predictable backlash if he did play, something the board should have anticipated.
The manager was being pragmatic; Zouma is one of our best players and, in the absence of Angelo Ogbonna, our best defender.
He contributed to a 1-0 victory that put us back in the top four. But was it really worth the barely concealed anger of Joe Public? Who for a change had a good reason to boo a player and create a toxic atmosphere.
It’s fair to say that Kurt Zouma has now paid the price in every sense of the word. Publicly vilified, he will be taunted for many months to come.
He has been fined two weeks’ wages (£250,000) which has been donated to animal charities. Stripped of his Adidas boot deal also and Zouma still faces the prospect of prosecution.
The animal in question has now been moved to a place of safety. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think he’s received adequate punishment for his actions.
In a world dominated by political correctness and wokeism, people have to lead perfect lives and can never make a mistake. God help anyone who falls short of standards set by our newly appointed moral guardians.
The public reaction was nothing short of remarkable as 200,000 people signed a petition demanding that Zouma be prosecuted. It settled any possible doubt that we are a nation of animal lovers.
But really what more do people want? Are his actions as bad as those who have hunted tigers and elephants to the point of extinction?
Some perspective has to be maintained; he was wrong, has apologised and is facing the music.
Reports suggest the animal sustained no injuries so Zouma may not be prosecuted – what then? Just contrast this reaction to the case of Manchester City player Benjamin Mendy who was charged with rape; and Mason Greenwood of Manchester United who is being investigated for similar offences.
My memory might deceive me but I don’t recall anything like the same reaction to the behaviour of these players?
It just doesn’t make any sense and the inconsistency is disturbing. Of course animals have rights, but it’s a question of responding in a manner that’s proportionate.
Zouma’s reputation is in shreds and will never be allowed to forget what happened. Many will say it serves him right but doesn’t the line have to be drawn somewhere?
Aside from the wages fine, he will lose an estimated £100,000 a year from the cancellation of the Adidas deal. Admittedly, for a player who already earns £6 million annually it won’t mean that much to him.
There’s no suggestion that his contract with West Ham will be cancelled, although I do wonder if even that would satisfy his sternest critics.
For West Ham, it’s another black eye that could have been lessened with a more thoughtful approach.
If it escalates any further the entire season could be derailed. They’ve inadvertently opened a can of worms as Zouma’s salary is now common knowledge; and he appears to be earning significantly more than other players in the squad.
It now seems likely to trigger a glut of pay claims as agents feverishly check the small print in players’ contracts.
The club has lost two sponsorship deals with Experience Kissimmee and Vitality while others have the matter under review.
There seems to be a growing sense of paranoia at the first hint of bad publicity. But David Moyes has stuck to his guns and Zouma is playing through a torrent of abuse.
They both have a job to do and are doggedly sticking to their task. Michail Antonio challenged one reporter and asked if this was as bad as the racist behaviour so prevalent in the game.
He does have a point. Zouma’s conduct is being addressed but there are much bigger issues affecting the society in which we live.