West Midlands Police have arrested a 12-year-old boy after Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha shared racist messages he was sent ahead of Sunday’s game against Aston Villa.
Zaha posted on Twitter ahead of the Premier League fixture 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.
Zaha presented the images with the caption: “Woke up to this today.”
A statement tweeted by West Midlands Police following Palace’s 2-0 loss at Villa Park read: “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 12-year-old from Solihull has been taken into custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated.”
Since the Premier League returned from its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic, 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.
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 intended to issue a lifetime ban when the perpetrator was 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.”