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Crystal Palace & Aston Villa condemn 'disgusting racist messages' directed at Zaha

15:16 BST 12/07/2020
Wilfried Zaha Crystal Palace 2019-20
The striker revealed that he was the target of a series of slurs, with police later holding a 12-year-old boy in connection with the attacks

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has led the condemnation of racist abuse aimed at Wilfried Zaha, praising the player for going public with the attack.

Ivory Coast international Zaha took to social media before Palace's Premier League encounter with Aston Villa to detail a number of messages sent to him by an individual over the platform Instagram, including numerous racial slurs and threats.

Both Palace and Villa issued statements on Twitter shortly afterwards, with the clubs pledging solidarity with the player and the latter promising to identify the nameless supporter and issue a lifetime ban.

West Midlands Police later revealed that a 12-year-old boy had been taken into custody after investigating the provenance of the messages, while underlining that "Racism will not be tolerated."

Speaking ahead of the match, Eagles boss Hodgson offered his support to Zaha too, with the 72-year-old adding that he did not feel the subject was something that should be kept under wraps.

"I think it's important," the former England boss told Sky Sports when asked on presenting a unified front to raise awareness and combat racism.

"I think it is being highlighted very much at the moment anyway with the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this type of behaviour and it is very saddening that, on the day of a game, a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse.

"I think it is right that Wilfried made people aware of it, I don't think this is something you should keep quiet about.

"I think it is very good that our club and 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 he will get identified and he will get called to account and that he will pay for these actions, because there is literally no excuse. There is no excuse at all.

"Obviously the reason is he wants to put off one of our best players playing well today but to do it in the way that he has chosen to do it, I think it is totally inexcusable."

In a statement posted on Twitter, Palace stated: "This is an absolute disgrace and should not be happening. We stand with you, Wilf, and anyone else who has to suffer such horrific abuse."

Villa followed up with a show of solidarity, tweeting: "We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to [Wilfried Zaha].

"We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with [Crystal Palace].

"We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified, AVFC will issue a lifetime ban."