Zaha, an Ivory Coast international who plays for London-based club Crystal Palace, shared the racist messages on Twitter on Sunday morning ahead of their match with Aston Villa that afternoon.
“You better not score you black cunt,” one of the messages read. “Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.” Other imagery showed members of the Ku Klux Klan and the a mocked-up photo of a cereal called “Coon Flakes.”
Woke up to this today. pic.twitter.com/Zal0F96htJ
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) July 12, 2020
The abuse was quickly latched upon by the West Midlands Police, who after a short investigation identified the individual behind the account and arrested him.
“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,” they announced on Twitter. “The 12-year-old from #Solihull has been taken to custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated.”
#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. pic.twitter.com/oFxBUvdtV1
— West Midlands Police – #StayAlert (@WMPolice) July 12, 2020
Crystal Palace manager and former England Head Coach Roy Hodgson backed his player’s decision to go public with the abuse he received.
“It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse,” he said. “I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it; I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about. There is literally no excuse; there is no excuse at all.”
Since the Black Lives Matter riots in May, the Premier League has launched a fierce propaganda campaign in favor of the Marxist organization, using banners in the empty stadiums and badges on shirts to promote it. Players, nearly all of whom earn tens of thousands of pounds a week, have also been encouraged to “take the knee” at every single match.
Earlier this month, the Premier League was forced to distance itself from the movement amid reports that many players were uncomfortable being associated with the radical far-left movement. The shift in approach came after Black Lives Matter UK posted a number of tweets at the weekend attacking Israel, including claims that the “mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism.”
“The Premier League offered this backing as we wholly agree with the players’ single objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists,” the league said in a statement.
We are aware of the risk posed by groups that seek to hijack popular causes and campaigns to promote their own political views. These actions are entirely unwelcome and are rejected by the Premier League and all other professional football bodies, and they underline the importance of our sport coming together to declare a very clear position against prejudice.
Meanwhile, Britain’s police forces are notorious for focusing on matters of policing hate speech rather than violent crime, particularly with regard to Muslim grooming gangs. Just this weekend, it was reported that Leicestershire Police ignored sweatshops full of mostly South Asian workers in the fashion industry over concerns they would be called racist.
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