A 16-year-old boy has been arrested after Huddersfield midfielder Philip Billing received racial abuse online.
Billing on Tuesday night tweeted a thumbs down emoji accompanied by an image of a message from someone purporting to be a Huddersfield supporter urging him to leave the Terriers.
The message said: “Leave our f****** club I never want to see you in a town kit ever again you useless wanna be black donkey.”
Huddersfield on Wednesday said they had a “zero-tolerance stance towards any form of discrimination” and had reported the incident to the police.
West Yorkshire Police subsequently said in a statement: “Following a report received by West Yorkshire Police this morning (13 March) in relation to abusive racial comments on social media, police have now arrested a 16-year-old male.
“The teenager has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications and the offence is being investigated as a hate crime. Enquiries remain ongoing.
“Kirklees District Police would like to reassure the public that this incident has been swiftly and proportionately investigated.
“All reports of hate incidents are taken extremely seriously by West Yorkshire Police and all such reports will be thoroughly investigated.”
Huddersfield’s earlier statement said: “We’re aware of the racist message sent to Philip Billing over social media on Tuesday evening and have subsequently referred the case to West Yorkshire Police.
“Huddersfield Town does not tolerate abuse of any kind and has a zero-tolerance stance towards any form of discrimination.
“We will give our full cooperation to the police to deal with this matter in the strongest possible way.”
Kick It Out condemned the abuse and has urged social media companies to do more to help safeguard their users.
“We condemn the disgraceful abuse that Philip Billing has received online and call on social media companies to take steps to act against people who use their platforms to carry it out,” Kick It Out said in a statement.
“Recent events underline that players should be protected from abuse both on and off the pitch. We are liaising with Huddersfield Town and have offered our support to Philip.”
Billing has produced several outstanding displays for Huddersfield this season.
The 22-year-old’s form has led to speculation of a summer move to another Premier League rival, although he was withdrawn at half-time in last Saturday’s home defeat to Bournemouth.
Town boss Jan Siewert said after the match he was unsure whether Billing was carrying an injury or not.
Huddersfield slumped to a 15th defeat in 17 league games and are 16 points from safety with eight matches remaining.
- Press Association