Ben Chilwell has been criticised by the RSPCA, after a video of him playing tug-of-war with a tiger whilst on holiday was spotted on social media.
Warning video contains footage some may find upsetting:
Chilwell would usually be on England duty right now, as Gareth Southgate's team continue to prepare for the Qatar World Cup, but he is unfortunately injured.
The Chelsea defender has been out of action since November but it wasn't confirmed until January that he'd miss the rest of the season, after having surgery.
That has left him with some time off this week, and it looks like he's gone to Florida to enjoy that time with a group of friends, and took in a theme park.
Whilst in America, a video of the 25-year-old, along with three friends, was posted by one of them, Taylor Baker, on social media of the four friends playing tug-of-war with a tiger.
The incident is believed to have taken place at a theme park in Florida, with Baker posting the video with the caption "Tiger Won — We Won."
A source, who is said to have passed the footage on to the Sun, said, "It’s animal abuse.
"They’re not treating the tiger with respect. It’s just fun to them. It’s probably winding up the poor animal, who is being used for entertainment."
And the former Leicester City defender's actions have been condemned by the RSPCA, with the charity saying, "We don’t feel this activity promotes respect for these wild animals and should not be marketed for public entertainment.
"Zoos often state that their aim is to educate the public and have a positive influence on visitor behaviour in ways that will directly benefit conservation.
"Whilst we understand zoos which do this may feel that a ‘tug-of-war’ provides physical enrichment for big cats, there are many alternative ways of doing this."
Ben Chilwell has been challenged by animal welfare chiefs over a tug-of-war challenge with a tiger— That's Football! (@ThatsFootballTV) March 27, 2022
The incident comes just two months after footage of Kurt Zouma kicking and hitting his cat was also shared on social media, by his brother.
Zouma lost sponsorship for the video, which was met with a huge overreaction from some, and had his two cats removed from his care by the RSPCA.
There could be further trouble for the West Ham United defender, who was never dropped by his team for his part in the video, after the RSPCA confirmed they had charged him and brother Yoan Zouma.
The Frenchman has been the butt of many jokes from rival fans in the weeks since the incident occurred, with a banner even flown over one game reading 'Cats Lives Matter.'
Chilwell can certainly avoid that level of mockery, especially as he won't be back on the pitch for the remainder of this season, for Chelsea or England, but also because he didn't physically harm the tiger.
Big or little, apparently no size of cat is safe from Premier League footballers.
*This article originally said that the theme park was Busch Gardens but we have since been informed that wasn't the case. The 'Tug-of-war' is not available at the park and the white tigers are not on display. We wholeheartedly apologise for this mistake.
Featured Image Credit: PA/The Sun
Topics: Premier League, Ben Chilwell, Chelsea