After a 12-year-old boy was arrested for sending the Premier League winger vile messages, Wilfred Zaha has made a desperate plea.
After a 12-year-old boy was arrested for sending the Premier League winger vile messages, Wilfred Zaha has made a desperate plea.

Football star slams ‘stupid, racist cowards’

Ivory Coast football star Wilfred Zaha has made a passionate call for social media platforms to change their policies in the hope of reducing online racism.

A 12-year-old boy was arrested after sending the Premier League goalscorer sickening racist messages earlier this week.

On Sunday, the Crystal Palace winger posted screenshots of messages which threatened him and called him a "black c***".

Zaha received two messages ahead of Palace's game with Aston Villa, with one reading: "You better not score tomorrow you black c***."

The other read: "Or I'll come to your house dressed as a ghost."

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A disgusting image of the Ku Klux Klan, a racist hate group based in the US, was also sent to the footballer.

Zaha captioned the screenshots: "Woke up to this today."

On Tuesday, Zaha posted a heartfelt video to his Instagram, begging popular social media sites to moderate their users to rid them of "stupid, racist cowards".

"I get stupid racist messages every day of my life," Zaha said.

"But the other day I thought, 'I'm going to out this person', it happened to be a 12-year-old. How can you have such hatred at 12 and send those type of things?

"It doesn't make a difference to me how old he is. Anyway, social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, to make a change for people to not be able to do this stuff and be held accountable for the stuff they send, everyone should put their details in, their proper details, where you live, everything to be able to come on an account so we don't get these messages, look at these messages I'm still getting.

"All kind and supportive stuff people have been saying but I want action, I want change.

"Instagram, Twitter, unless people give their proper full details, they should not be allowed to make an account, because that's all cowards do.

"These stupid racist cowards, that's all they do, hide behind accounts. And it is going to carry on, we can put it everywhere, we can put it on the news, wherever but it's going to carry on.

"So yeah until these things are changed, I don't want to hear nothing sorry."

West Midlands Police confirmed after the game - which Aston Villa won 2-0 - that a boy from Solihull had been arrested in relation to the incident.

A statement published on Twitter said: "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."

Aston Villa was quick to condemn the vile messages, and vowed to ban the culprit for life.

An Aston Villa statement read: "We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to Zaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with Crystal Palace.

"We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban."

Crystal Palace also released a statement: "This is an absolute disgrace and should not be happening.

"We stand with you, Wilf, and anyone else who has to suffer such horrific abuse."

Wilfried Zaha has made 192 appearances for Crytal Palace since his Premier League debut in 2010.
Wilfried Zaha has made 192 appearances for Crytal Palace since his Premier League debut in 2010.

Eagles boss Roy Hodgson spoke on the matter ahead of kick-off at Villa Park, praising Zaha for making the abuse public.

"It has been highlighted at the moment anyway with the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this type of behaviour," Hodgson said.

"It's very sad that on the day of a game a player should wake up to this cowardly and despicable abuse.

"I think it is right that Wilf has made people aware of it, I don't think this is something that you should keep quiet about."

Zaha thanked West Midlands Police for their swift response on social media.

"Very disappointed we didn't get a better result yesterday but I wanted to come on here to thank you all for all your messages of support," Zaha wrote.

"I would also like to thank West Midlands Police for their swift action in making an arrest.

"People need to understand that whatever your age, that your behaviour and your words come with consequences and you cannot hide behind social media.

"It is important social media platforms do as they did yesterday and seek out these individuals and remove them.

"This is not the first time I have received messages like this, nor am I the only player to receive messages like this - it happens every day.

"I want to thank everyone for the love and support but enough is enough! It is not enough to be disgusted by these messages I received and move on.

"It isn't enough to just say #notoracism. We need action, we need education, things need to change."

- With The Sun

 

Originally published as Football star slams 'stupid, racist cowards'


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