West Ham defender, Kurt Zouma could face up to four years in prison in his native France for kicking and slapping his cat.
A legal complaint has been filed against the 27-year-old in Paris, where there is widespread shock at a video showing the player attacking his pet at his £2million Essex home.
It led to lawyers working for the 30 Million Friends Foundation (La Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis), the largest animal rights group in France, contacting prosecutors.
A spokesman for the Foundation said: ‘We condemn this heinous act, have asked that the player be suspended from the France team, and filed a legal complaint against him.’
According to article 113-6 of the French Penal Code, a French citizen can be prosecuted for criminal acts carried out abroad.
Tough new animal protection laws were introduced in France in 2021, meaning that the ‘mistreatment of animals’ is now punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine equivalent to £50,000.
Aggravated factors in any criminal prosecution included acts of violence being committed in front of other people, or if the animal belongs to the attacker.
‘In the case of Kurt Zouma, the video appears to show aggravating facts, so he could be in very serious trouble,’ said another source close to the case.
Senior French politicians have also condemned Zouma, who is from the eastern city of Lyon, and called him to be kicked out of France’s national team.