West Ham manager David Moyes said Kurt Zouma missed Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Leicester due to sickness after he was withdrawn from the starting line-up minutes before kick-off.
The French defender had initially been named Moyes’ team despite fury in recent days over a video that showed Zouma physically abusing his cat. Moyes has been heavily criticised for not dropping the 27-year-old. However, he revealed it was ill health that kept Zouma out rather than a late change of heart by the club or player for him to start.
“Kurt was not well last night, was sick during the night and did not eat with us today and stayed out of the meeting,” said Moyes.
“We did that just in case it was a Covid symptom but it has been sickness. He just could not make it and he was really desperate to play.”
Zouma has been fined the maximum amount of two weeks’ wages by the Hammers, reportedly around £250,000 ($340,000).
The centre-back started in a 1-0 win against Watford on Tuesday, just hours after the video was released, and was booed by both sets of supporters.
Zouma has lost his sponsorship deal with sportswear giant Adidas over the video which shows him hitting and kicking his cat and throwing a shoe at the animal while laughter was heard in the background. West Ham have also lost sponsors with insurance and investment company Vitality and Experience Kissimmee, the tourist board of the Florida city, withdrawing their support.
The RSPCA and Essex police are working together to investigate the incident, with the animal charity taking Zouma’s pet to check on its well-being.
“I don’t think the club could take more action or any quicker. West Ham have fined him the maximum wages. We all accept the actions are terrible and diabolical,” Moyes said on Friday.
National League club Dagenham and Redbridge have suspended Zouma’s brother Yoan, who is understood to have filmed the video.
West Ham, who sit fourth in the Premier League, are aiming to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history by finishing in the top four of the English top-flight.