English Police Arrest 12-Year-Old for Sending Racist Messages to Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha

The messages threatened Zaha with racial violence, and include a photo of the KKK

Wilfried Zaha Racism
Wilfried Zaha looks on during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park on July 12, 2020 in Birmingham, England.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
By Luis Paez-Pumar / July 12, 2020 1:53 pm

Though soccer has tried to “Say No to Racism” for years, Black players across Europe are still subject to racist abuse from fans. Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha was victim to one such instance ahead of his club’s match against Aston Villa, and police in England have arrested a 12-year-old that was behind a series of menacing social media posts.

Zaha posted the messages he received on Instagram, which feature a racist slur as well as various racist images, including a Ku Klux Klan image:

The West Midlands Police department — which covers Birmingham, home of Aston Villa — replied to Zaha saying they were looking into the incident. Hours later, the department tweeted out that they had identified and arrested the source of the racist messages: a 12-year-old boy from the town of Solihull:

Both clubs involved in Sunday’s match backed Zaha and admonished the messages, with Aston Villa retweeting Crystal Palace’s statement to add their own, saying that they would issue a lifetime ban for the culprit:

Zaha has been the target of racist abuse before: the 27-year-old Ivorian was subjected to social media racism back in October, with his club also tweeting out their support of the player and saying they had “taken action” against the culprits of that incident. As for the 12-year-old arrested on Sunday, police are not releasing his name, though Zaha’s original tweet did include the child’s handle.

This latest incident comes just weeks after the Premier League instituted a new system to allow players to report online abuse. Though Zaha went public with the abuse instead of going through that process, his manager, Roy Hodgson, supports that decision, saying “it is right that Wilf made people aware of it; I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about.”

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