It’s not about the cat: here’s what Kurt Zouma needs to learn

Kurt Zouma may not deserve a chance to salvage his reputation. But if he does, he needs to act fast, writes Amana Walker

<p>Kurt Zouma. Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images</p>

Kurt Zouma. Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

When the leaked video of West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma showed him kicking his cat around, it revealed far more than he bargained on.

Here is a highly paid premiership footballer demonstrating the kind of behaviour that galls us, for many reasons:

As a footballer, he has a responsibility to his many (especially young) fans to set an example. He didn’t do that.

As a parent, he has a responsibility to his children to show how animals- and their family pet- should be treated. He didn’t do that.

As a highly paid professional, he has a responsibility to his club to uphold the standards they expect from their players and staff. He didn’t do that.

Zouma was fined two weeks’ wages (£250k) which angered everyone who can only dream of earning that in two weeks, but the ‘price’ he is likely to pay will be much, much higher. His reputation is in tatters, he has lost the respect of his fans and damaged the West Ham’s name, and he has lost sponsorship.

How does he recover from this? This answer is that he might not.

Only time and some exemplary behaviour will tell.

Zouma needs to act swiftly.

He can and should try to repair the damage he has caused.

That means he must prove to his fans, club, and family that he is not the person that we saw on the video: that was an idiot who no one wants to see again.

Social media can help your profile skyrocket, it can also cause it to plummet. If he is now ‘cancelled’ on social media by fans, he will suffer the consequences with more online, and on pitch, abuse. This could ultimately lead to him leaving the club (or playing in the UK).

He is in debt to the RSPCA for helping and taking care of his cats .

Thank goodness the RSPCA exists to help animals who face any kind of cruelty. Kurt should proactively be looking at ways to further support them, financially and non-financially. If he truly cares for his cats, now is the time to prove it.

He needs to prove his value as a team member and role model.

The impact will be felt across the team - who is the real Kurt Zouma? What do his fellow teammates (and their families) think of him?

Some would argue they are irrelevant in this, but in a sport where a tight knit team matters to performance, it’s very relevant.

Let’s hope he can win back their support.

He has to perform as a player under added pressure.

Every week his team go out there to play well, win games, and face the (now) angry crowds.

It’s added pressure that any team can do without. This means he now has to raise his game and consistently play top class football.

Kurt Zouma is lucky that his club decided to allow him to play so soon after the incident. Let’s be honest, in many normal workplaces - even at other clubs - he could have been sacked. Should he have been sacked?

The impact of him being allowed to stay, makes the club look like his behaviour is almost acceptable (does the wages fine really do enough?).

This is yet another example of how much behaviour is under scrutiny when you live your life in the spotlight.

That doesn’t mean animal cruelty is acceptable when you’re not living in the glare of the public eye - it’s never acceptable. But, as Zouma has now found out, it means that when you have a high-profile job, you have a huge responsibility that goes with it (yes Boris, this does still apply to you).

Get it wrong and the whole country (potentially, world) will be watching.

It appears that not enough emphasis is being focused on the behaviour of players. Why not?

It is about the cat, but it’s about so much more than that.

Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com

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