West Ham United sponsor Experience Kissimmee says it is “evaluating its relationship” with the club after it failed to suspend Kurt Zouma for apparently abusing an animal.
The Hammers picked Zouma for last night’s Premier League match against Watford despite earlier condemning footage of him kicking and hitting a cat.
Animal protection group Peta, meanwhile, has called for the club to ensure the former Chelsea defender “never plays for the club again”.
Experience Kissimmee, which promotes tourism to the Kissimmee region of Florida, said it was “disheartening” that former Chelsea defender Zouma was selected.
“As we wait for further information from WHU, we will be evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club,” it added.
In an earlier statement, Experience Kissimmee said: “Experience Kissimmee strongly condemns the actions of player Kurt Zouma.
“We will be monitoring the situation between Kurt Zouma and West Ham United, as we as an organization, community, and destination in no way condone animal cruelty.”
In an open letter to West Ham’s owners on Wednesday, Peta called for Zouma to “suffer the consequences” of his actions.
“We therefore ask that you ensure he never plays for or otherwise represents your club again,” Peta said.
“To allow Zouma to continue to play for your club would be a stain on West Ham’s reputation and would send the worrying message to your fans and the public that the club doesn’t take animal abuse seriously.”
West Ham manager David Moyes said he had accepted an apology from Zouma and would leave any disciplinary action to the club.
“It’s something we’re all disappointed with and something we can’t understand. I know how people feel, but I’m also a football manager here,” said Moyes.
“I am someone who cares a lot about my dogs and horses and all the people I am connected with. I think the club would rather deal with it all in time and they will let you know what the action is.”
Zouma, 27, issued an apology on Tuesday after the footage emerged on social media.
“I want to apologise for my actions,” said the Frenchman. “There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.”