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Boy, 12, arrested after Wilfried Zaha racially abused ahead of Aston Villa game

By Liam Keen | Birmingham | Aston Villa | Published:

A 12-year-old boy has been arrested after Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha was racially abused ahead of their Premier League match with Aston Villa.

Wilfried Zaha

The 27-year-old tweeted screenshots from his Instagram direct messages showing the extent of the abuse directed towards him, which had appeared to come from an Aston Villa fan.

One of the messages showed an image of the Ku Klux Klan with another message reading: ''You better not score tomorrow your black c*** or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.''

West Midlands Police, who originally tweeted Zaha to say they were investigating, later arrested a 12-year-old from Solihull, who has been taken into custody.

A statement read: "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 have promised to issue a lifetime ban to a supporter for the abuse.

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Their statement read: "We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to Wilfried 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."

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace said: ''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.''

The incident comes as English football continues to support the Black Lives Matter movement, by taking a knee before games.

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In his pre-match press conference before the game, which Aston Villa won 2-0, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson condemned the 'despicable abuse'.

"I think it’s important [that players and football clubs continue to raise awareness of the abuse suffered]. I think it is being highlighted very much anyway with the black lives matter movement, and everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this type of behaviour.

"It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse.

"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."

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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