No doubt Crystal Palace star Zaha is affected by racial abuse – Hodgson

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Wilfried Zaha - Crystal PalaceGetty Images

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has discussed how social media racial abuse affects Wilfried Zaha on the pitch.

The forward has received a number of racist messages, including from a 12-year-old before Palace’s defeat to Aston Villa in July.

In an effort to try and stamp out the racial problem, English football will boycott social media this weekend and Hodgson has expressed his support for the move ahead of his side’s Premier League game against Manchester City on Saturday.

“He's a strong character, a resilient character. He's never even indicated to me that 'this has hurt me so much mentally that I can't train or play football,'” Hodgson said in a pre-match press conference.

“But there's no doubt that all the things that have gone on have had a serious effect on him. I find it very difficult myself to appreciate how much these players are able to take really, and how strong they can be in the face of such vile abuse from anonymous people. It's tough enough if you're confronted by someone who abuses you.

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“At least then you've got the person in front of you, and you can argue your case or at least get a better feeling of why am I deserving this abuse. But all these anonymous people - we don't even know who they are.

“The worst thing that's happened in relation to social media for me was before a very important game at the end of last season, an important game for Aston Villa more so than us.

“We weren't fighting relegation, they were. But the morning of that game Wilf woke up to some of the vilest abuse possible, and that certainly did affect him. He was mentally challenged by that level of abuse.

“But what really affected me was when they tracked down the person and they did track them down, it was an 11 or 12-year-old boy.

“It makes you wonder where society's going. But what sort of platforms are these social media platforms that allow a 12-year-old boy who maybe doesn't even know better, maybe he's just aping older people around him - what sort of platform is that that you can get on and do these things? It's frightening, really.

“It's frightening for Wilf, the person who's been abused, but it frightens me as well that the abusers are people of this nature.

“Let's hope this [boycott] has some sort of effect. Let's hope that these companies that run social media and have become extremely wealthy on the back of it, they do start thinking that we've got to do more ourselves to regulate our site.

“That it's not going to be quite so simple so that anyone at home in the anonymity of their study can say whatever they like, to whoever they like.”

Zaha has scored 10 goals this season and provided two assists in 24 Premier League games, amid other dazzling displays.