Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha was subjected to online racist abuse ahead of The Eagles’ Premier League fixture at Aston Villa on Sunday.
Since the resumption from the coronavirus shutdown, all Premier League teams have worn “Black Lives Matter” logos on their kits, with players taking a knee before kick-off in each match to show solidarity with the movement.
However, a 12-year-old has been arrested and taken into custody for racist attack on Zaha, the West Midlands Police announced on Twitter. The child is from Solihull.
“#ARRESTED| We were alerted to a series of racist messages sent to a footballer today and after looking into them and conducting checks, we have arrested a boy,” the message reads.
The 12-year-old from #Solihull has been taken to custody.
Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/oFxBUvdtV1
— West Midlands Police – #StayAlert (@WMPolice) July 12, 2020
However, Ivory Coast international Zaha posted on Twitter before Sunday’s game at Villa to show screenshots he received from an Instagram account bearing the handle @jackdolan_avfc.
The first image showed a message that read: “You better not score tomorrow you black c***. Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.”
Further abusive messages featured a mocked-up image of a man in blackface on a cereal box, alongside a vile racial slur, and a picture of a Ku Klux Klan rally.
We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to @wilfriedzaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with @CPFC.
We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban. https://t.co/Wx5wJVA1ww
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) July 12, 2020
Zaha abuse an “absolute disgrace” – Palace
Zaha presented the images with the caption: “Woke up to this today.”
Former Palace and England striker Ian Wright tweeted in support of the 27-year-old. “People like to make these experiences seem like it’s not the norm for black people,” he wrote. “It’s always an outlier. ‘Not one of us’. ‘Not a real (insert club) fan’.
“These are real people & daily experiences!! Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it!!! “We stand with you Wilf.”
In a short statement on their official Twitter account, Palace said: “This is an absolute disgrace and should not be happening. We stand with you, Wilf, and anyone else who has to suffer such horrific abuse.”
Villa issued their own response, stating they had involved the police and intend to issue a life ban when the perpetrator is identified.
They tweeted: “We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to @wilfriedzaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with @CPFC.
“We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban.”
Last October, Palace announced they had “taken action” after Zaha was subjected to racist abuse on social media.