West Midlands Police have confirmed that a 12-year-old boy has been arrested after racist messages were sent to Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha before Sunday’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa.
Just after midday, Zaha posted a tweet featuring four screenshots of racist messages he’d received via social media.
The Ivory Coast winger tweeted: “Woke up to this today.”
The tweet went viral as the football community expressed their disgust.
West Midlands Police, meanwhile, messaged Zaha saying: “Hi Wilfried, we are looking into who the owner of this account is and would encourage you to report it to your local police force too.”
Here’s Zaha’s initial tweet…
Followed by the reply from West Midlands Police…
Then, just before 5pm, West Midlands Police posted the following tweet: “#ARRESTED| 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.”
Twelve years old. Absolutely shocking.
Zaha played the full 90 minutes at Villa Park as Palace lost 2-0 to their relegation-threatened opponents.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson told reporters that he supported Zaha’s decision to go public about the abuse, adding that both clubs were working to identify the individual responsible.
"It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse," said Hodgson.
"I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it; I don't think it is something he should keep quiet about.
"I think it is very good that our club, Aston Villa and the Premier League are doing everything they can to find out who this despicable individual is and one can only hope that they will get identified and they will get called to account and they will pay for these actions.
"There is literally no excuse; there is no excuse at all."
A Premier League statement said: "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."
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