West Ham star Kurt Zouma has been named in the starting 11 for tonight’s Premier League clash with Watford despite the controversy surrounding a video emerging of him abusing a cat.

The footballer was roundly condemned today after a video emerged showing Zouma kicking and slapping the cat, while laughter can be heard in the background.

The 27-year-old France international then chases the animal before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Zouma currently plays for West Ham United (PA)Zouma currently plays for West Ham United (PA)

The RSPCA has condemned the video, reaffirmed a commitment to investigate any complaints about animal welfare.

A spokesperson for the animal welfare charity the RSPCA said: “This is a very upsetting video. It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise.

“We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare.”

Kurt Zouma issues apology over cat abuse

“I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret,” Zouma said.

“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.

“They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”

West Ham ‘condemn’ Kurt Zouma’s actions

Zouma joined the Hammers from Chelsea in August 2021, after the clip emerged, West Ham criticised Zouma’s actions.

“West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated,” the club said in a statement.

“We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.”

Despite this The Hammers confirmed the line-up including the defender for tonight’s game at the London Stadium.

Fans react to Zouma starting against Watford

Supporters have taken to Twitter to show their disgust at Zouma playing in the match amid the controversy.

One fan, Jacob Jarvis, was clearly angered when he wrote: “ZOUMA STARTING IS DISGUSTING”, another calling themselves FSG GTFO said: “Absolutely vile that you’re playing Zouma after that. Lots of people lost all their respect for West Ham tonight.”

Rosa added: “Seriously playing Zouma… you guys actually have no class. Grim.”