AAP Soccer

Boy arrested for racist rant at EPL’s Zaha

By AAP Newswire

A 12-year-old boy has been arrested for his racist rant at Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha on social media.

Zaha, 27, posted screenshots on Twitter from messages sent to his Instagram account ahead of Palace's Premier League fixture at Aston Villa on Sunday.

"You better not score tomorrow you black c***," one read.

That was followed by a second message reading: "Or I'll come to your house dressed as a ghost."

Zaha was then sent racist imagery, with the Ivory Coast international deciding to share the abuse, collating the messages and tweeting: "Woke up to this today."

West Midlands Police said in a statement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon: "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."

Palace manager Roy Hodgson, speaking after his side's 2-0 loss at Villa Park but before news broke of the arrest, said: "He (Zaha) is very unhappy and he's entitled to be.

"These cowardly, despicable acts from people ... presumably trying to get some sort of advantage for the team they support, maybe trying to put some doubts into the head of one of the opposition team's star players.

"It's very sad that people resort to the type of abuse that he resorted to.

"It's nothing to do with the game and I only hope the authorities catch the person who did this and they will be punished accordingly and for me, the punishment could not be severe enough."

The Premier League also issued a statement condemning the abuse.

It read: "This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside @wilfriedzaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form. There is #NoRoomForRacism, anywhere.

"We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse.

"Through our dedicated reporting system we can take immediate action on cases like this."

Anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out tweeted: "We are extremely disappointed that Wilf Zaha has once again been the subject of targeted racial abuse.

"Those who continue to select professional sports people in this way, need to be brought to justice and face the strongest consequences #KickItOut."

Former England defender Sol Campbell saluted the mechanisms in place for people to be tracked down when they post online abuse.

Campbell told Sky Sports: ""Zaha doesn't want to wake up to these images on his Instagram but it's good that authorities are there and mechanisms in place that you can track people down.

"If you give all the information away, to the right authorities they can track you down very easily. You know, a 12-year-old boy, it's quite shocking really."