West Midlands Police have confirmed they are investigating racist messages sent to Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha ahead of Sunday’s match against Aston Villa.
Zaha posted several screenshots of the racist abuse he had received to his social media accounts on the morning of the match, alongside the caption: “Woke up to this today.”
West Midlands Police have confirmed they are “looking into” the messages and have encouraged Zaha to report the incident to his local police force.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson supports Zaha’s decision to go public about the abuse and says both clubs are working on identifying 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.
“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.”
‘Wilfried Zaha abuse is a disgrace’
Former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray has also praised Zaha for his reaction and believes the individual responsible for the abuse needs to be held accountable.
“Credit Wilfried Zaha, dealing with it the way he has – outing the individual,” Murray said on Super Sunday.
“Roy Hodgson has summed it up brilliantly. They’ve then got to pass it over to the powers that be and they need to deal with it.
“I think someone like Wilfried Zaha will use it as motivation, to say ‘I’m going to go out there and show you on the pitch that I’m better than you’, and rise above it.
“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.”
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