West Midlands Police have arrested a 12-year-old Aston Villa fan who reportedly sent racist messages to Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Zaha on social media.
Zaha tweeted on Sunday saying “woke up to this today” and other several abusive messages on social media before Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa, a game they lost 2-0.
Woke up to this today. pic.twitter.com/Zal0F96htJ— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) July 12, 2020
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson called the abuse “cowardly and despicable”.
The Premier League called the abuse of the 27-year-old Ivory Coast winger “completely unacceptable”.
Responding to the tweet, the West Midlands Police responded, assuring Zaha they would look into the abuse and hours later confirmed an arrest.
“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,” read a WM Police tweet.
“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.— West Midlands Police – #StayAlert (@WMPolice) July 12, 2020
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
Speaking to Sky Sports before the arrest, Hodgson added: “It’s been highlighted at the moment anyway with the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this behaviour.
“It is very sad that, on the day of a game, a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse. It’s right Wilf has made people aware of it and I don’t think this is something you should keep quiet about.
“He wants to put off one of our best players from playing well today, but to do it in the way he has chosen is totally inexcusable.”
The Premier League said: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside Wilfried Zaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form.
“We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse.”
Players in the Premier League have been kneeling in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement before every match since the restart of the season in June.
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