West Midlands Police have confirmed they are investigating racist messages sent to Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha’s social media accounts ahead of Sunday’s match against Aston Villa.
Zaha posted several screenshots of the abuse he’d received via his official Twitter account on Sunday morning, along with the caption: “Woke up to this today.”
His manager, Roy Hodgson, praised the Ivorian international for going public about the abuse he’d been subjected to and confirmed both Palace and Villa were working to try and find the individual responsible.
“It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse,” said Hodgson, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“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,” he added.
The West Midlands Police, meanwhile, said they were “looking into” the racist messages.
Sky Sports pundit and former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray also weighed in, citing the need for further education amid the resurgence of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in recent months.
“Credit Wilfried Zaha, dealing with it the way he has – outing the individual,” Murray said.
“It’s just disgraceful, no individual deserves it and the punishment needs to fit the crime. I think you’ve got to throw the book at them – also educate, but throw the book at them.
“It should be on record. They shouldn’t be employed, they should be outed. I grew up in the area and no Aston Villa fan will condone that.
“Nobody in football, nobody in the world wants to see it. We see so many strides being taken forward – so there needs to be a very, very harsh punishment,” he added.