Alleged Culprit Behind Racist Messages Is 12 Years Old

They went to soccer star Wilfried Zaha
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2020 4:18 AM CDT
Boy, 12, Arrested for Allegedly Sending Racist Messages to Soccer Star
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park, in London, England, Tuesday, July 7, 2020.   (Peter Cziborra/Pool via AP)

A 12-year-old boy has been arrested in the UK after allegedly sending racist messages to a British Premiere League soccer player. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha shared the messages on Twitter Sunday; they're difficult to look at but include multiple racist slurs and images. Zaha, 27, was born in Ivory Coast and moved to England as a child; he's previously shared similar racist remarks and threats he's received. One of the Sunday images shows the Instagram account apparently belonging to the abuser, which indicates the owner of the account is a fan of Aston Villa, the team Crystal Palace played later Sunday. Aston Villa said in a statement it was working with police to investigate the abuse and that it would ban the abuser for life once identified, the Washington Post reports. It wasn't long before police in England's West Midlands announced an arrest had been made.

"Racism won’t be tolerated," police said. The Premier League had said in a statement that the messages to Zaha were "completely unacceptable" and used the hashtag #NoRoomForRacism, which it had first launched Tuesday. It added that as of last month, it has a dedicated system for reporting and tracking online abuse received by anyone involved with the league. As Insider notes, Black soccer players often experience racist abuse. Another Crystal Palace star, Ian Wright, had just last month shared similarly horrifying messages he had received, and a plane towing a "White Lives Matter" banner was hired to fly over a league match this season. "People like to make these experiences seem like it's not the norm for Black people," Wright tweeted, per Al Jazeera, in response to Zaha's experience. "These are real people and daily experiences. Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it." (More racism stories.)

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