(Reuters) - Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has been subjected to racist abuse on social media and the forward shared screenshots ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game at Aston Villa.
The Ivory Coast international tweeted images of the messages he received from an individual on Saturday, which included one of members of the white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan.
West Midlands Police said later on Sunday that a 12-year-old from Solihull had been taken into custody for sending racist messages to a footballer. They did not name Zaha.
"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 police said on Twitter here.
The Premier League condemned the incident on its official website.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside @wilfriedzaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form,” it said.
“There is #NoRoomForRacism, anywhere. We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse.”
Palace lent their support to Zaha, saying that the abuse was an “absolute disgrace” while manager Roy Hodgson said before the game that the club was working to identify the culprit.
“I think it’s important that it’s being highlighted and everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this kind of behaviour,” Hodgson told Sky Sports.
“The club are doing everything they can to find out who this despicable person is. There’s literally no excuse, at all. It’s totally inexcusable.”
Aston Villa said they were working with the police and would issue a lifetime ban to the culprit.
Former Arsenal and Palace striker Ian Wright offered his support to Zaha.
“People like to make these experiences seem like it’s not the norm for Black people. It’s always an outlier. ‘Not one of us’. ‘Not a real (insert club) fan’,” Wright tweeted.
“These are real people and daily experiences. Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it.”
When the English top flight restarted after a three-month stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all players had “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) on their shirts instead of their names in the opening round of games.
Zaha and his Palace team mates took a knee to show their support for the BLM campaign before kickoff, a gesture that has been made by players at every game since the resumption.
Villa beat Palace 2-0 with Egyptian forward Trezeguet scoring twice to revive their Premier League survival hopes.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar, Rohith Nair, Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge
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