West Ham United striker Michail Antonio has joined fans to question why there are calls for his team-mate 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 filmed kicking the cat in his house and Antonio suggested the public reaction has been too severe when he spoke to reporters outside West Ham’s training ground.
Michail Antonio Backs Kurt Zouma
Recently Sponsors Adidas dumped him and West Ham were already 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-a-year sponsorship.
Since the video was released on social media, Zouma has been hit with the maximum fine (£250,000) of two weeks’ wages by West Ham United which will be donated to animal welfare charities. But West Ham team-mate Antonio came out to 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 was not clear which racism court convictions the Jamaican international was referring to this morning, 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 only banned for four games by the Football Association and fined £220,000. He was also stripped of the England captaincy. Also, Luis Suarez was given an eight-game ban and a £40,000 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.