West Midlands Police has confirmed they have arrested a 12-year-old boy after Wilfried Zaha was subjected to racist abuse on social media ahead of Crystal Palace’s match against Aston Villa on Sunday.
Zaha shared screenshots of the mesages he had been sent to his Instagram account in the early hours of Sunday morning, including one of members of the white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan. “Woke up to this today,” wrote the Ivory Coast international.
The message was condemned by both Palace manager Roy Hodgson, while Villa said they were working with the police and would issue a lifetime ban to the culprit. A statement from the police later on Sunday confirmed that they had taken swift action.
“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,” it read.
#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.— West Midlands Police - #StayAlert (@WMPolice) July 12, 2020
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
“The 12-year-old from Solihull has been taken to custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated.”
Former Arsenal and Palace striker Ian Wright offered his support to Zaha, who suffered racist abuse and threats to his family on social media after being awarded a late penalty during Palace’s draw against Arsenal in October 2018 and again in April 2019.
“People like to make these experiences seem like it’s not the norm for Black people,” he tweeted. “It’s always an outlier. ‘Not one of us’. ‘Not a real (insert club) fan’. These are real people and daily experiences. Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it.”
England cricketer Jofra Archer added: “Hopefully this will deter the keyboard warriors.”