Boy, 12, released under investigation amid footballer racism probe

Boy, 12, released under investigation amid footballer racism probe
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha (pictured) said: “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." Photo: PA

A 12-year-old boy arrested in England in connection with a series of racist messages sent to a Premier League footballer has been released under investigation.

West Midlands Police said they were looking into messages sent to Crystal Palace player Wilfried Zaha’s Instagram account on Sunday.

The Ivory Coast international posted screenshots of the messages he received on his Twitter account with the caption: “Woke up to this today.”

The 27-year-old was sent racist imagery as well as abusive messages.

“You better not score tomorrow you black c***,” one read.

That was followed by a second message reading: “Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.”

The force arrested a 12-year-old boy from Solihull after examining the messages, but he has since been released under investigation.

In a statement, the force said: “The 12-year-old boy arrested in connection with racist social media messages sent to a footballer has been released under investigation while our inquiries continue.

“Racism has no place in society and we’re attempting to contact the footballer to obtain a statement.”

In a tweet today, Zaha said: “Very disappointed we didn’t get a better result yesterday but I wanted to come on here to thank you for all your messages of support.

“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.”

The Crystal Palace winger added: “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.

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

Wilfried Zaha

“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.”

Palace manager Roy Hodgson earlier praised the player for going public having been the target of “cowardly and despicable” racist abuse.

After Zaha posted the messages on social media, anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out tweeted: “We are extremely disappointed that Wilf Zaha has once again been the subject of targeted racial abuse.

“Those who continue to select professional sportspeople in this way, need to be brought to justice and face the strongest consequences #KickItOut.”

In Saturday’s match, Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Villa Park.

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