KURT Zouma WILL start for West Ham today despite mounting fury over his cat kicking shame.
The club confirmed the centre back, 27, will be in the starting 11 as the Hammers take on Leicester this afternoon.
There was speculation whether Zouma would play after he was booed by fans from both sides at Tuesday’s match against Watford.
Hornets supporters hurled a barrage of insults at the France international – labelling him a “w***er” and chanting “RSPCA” when he was in possession.
Manager David Moyes yesterday defended the player at his pre-match press conference in the wake of the animal cruelty storm.
He branded Zouma a “really good lad” and claimed the Premier League club is getting “absolute hell”.
The gaffer also revealed the defender is “hoping he is forgiven” after SE shared the horrific footage of Zouma punching and kicking his pet.
Moyes added: “We accept his actions were diabolical, but we have chosen to play him and stand by it.
“It is a terrible incident. We all totally agree. Nobody in this club doesn’t agree with that.
“But with sponsorship being taken away, that’s something the club will deal with, not me.
“We are going to get absolute hell. He’s getting hell.
“We are so disappointed. It’s out of character – we have never seen this from Kurt. He is a really good lad. Really surprised by it.
“He is getting help and we are trying to do as much as we can to help him.”
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady condemned the centre back’s actions in a column for SE on Sunday.
The shocking footage showed Zouma volleying his poor Bengal cat across his kitchen like a football.
He also chased it with a pair of designer shoes across his dining room and slapped it across the face.
Zouma was fined £250,000 – two weeks’ wages – for the attack and issued a grovelling apology insisting his cats were both “perfectly fine and healthy”.
He could face a criminal prosecution if the RSPCA deems his kicking and slapping of the helpless pet illegal behaviour.
Ironically, the footballer is an ambassador for a charity which protects abused big cats.
Both his cats have now been seized by the RSPCA and Zouma has been dropped by sponsors Adidas and Vitality UK.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “Two cats are in our care, have been seen by a vet and are being well looked after.
“They will remain in our care while the investigation continues and are not available for rehoming although we have lots of beautiful cats who are looking for new homes: www.rspca.org.uk/findapet.
“We understand the high level of interest in this incident and can reassure you that our experienced officers are carrying out a full and thorough investigation.
“Due to the fact that this is a live investigation, we are limited in what we can say, however we will provide updates when we are able.”
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