A 12-year-old boy has been arrested for allegedly sending sickening racist messages to Crystal Palace and Ivorian winger, Wilfried Zaha.
The 27-year-old footballer posted screenshots of the racist abuse he had received to his social media accounts ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game at Aston Villa, alongside the caption: “Woke up to this today.”
One of the messages sent to Zaha read: “You better not score tomorrow you black c***.”
The other read: “Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.”
Two disgusting images of the Ku Klux Klan, a racist hate group based in the US, and another displaying an edited version of a box of cornflakes, carrying the words ‘coonflakes’ and displaying a man with his face blacked up were also sent to the footballer.
After the game – which Villa won 2-0, West Midlands Police confirmed that a boy, aged 12, from Solihull has been arrested in relation to the incident.
A statement published on Twitter said: “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 to custody. “Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated.”
Both clubs have since condemned the racist messages and Villa vowed to ban the culprit for life.
An Aston Villa statement read: “We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to Zaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with Crystal Palace.
“We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban.”
Palace added: “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.”
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson spoke on the matter ahead of kick-off at Villa Park, praising his player for making the abuse public.
He said: I think it is right that Wilf has made people aware of it, I don’t think this is something that you should keep quiet about.”
He said: “It has been highlighted at the moment anyway with the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this type of behaviour.
“It’s very sad that on the day of a game a player should wake up to this cowardly and despicable abuse.