Wilfried Zaha wants social media platforms to do more to prevent racist abuse

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has called on social media platforms Instagram and Twitter to do more to prevent people suffering racist abuse after admitting he is scared to look at his direct messages.

The Ivory Coast international was sent racist messages and imagery earlier on July 11 and a 12-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the incident.

West Midlands Police have since released the individual under investigation, but Zaha wants social media sites to do more.

“Even after I reported the abuse from the 12-year old, I reported 50 accounts,” the 27-year-old told CNN.

“And I got racially abused after the stuff that I got before and it’s like, what happens after that account gets blocked?

“Then they just make a new one straight after. I feel like with everything that we do in life, with everything we register to, we have to give some sort of ID, so why is it not the same with Instagram? Why is it not the same with Twitter?”

Zaha believes other black footballers are, like him, scared to use platforms like Instagram and Twitter because of the comments they will receive from other users.

He also recounted the first time he faced abuse online and expressed his wish to make a difference in the fight against racism – something Palace manager Roy Hodgson suggested the winger has the character to do.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, left, praised Wilfried Zaha for calling out the racist abuse the winger received online
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, left, praised Wilfried Zaha for calling out the racist abuse the winger received online

“I’ve had racial abuse all my life but it’s a thing where for right now, I’ve got a platform where I feel like if I can make a change, I’ll try,” Zaha added.

“For black footballers for instance, being on Instagram is not even fun for us any more. You’re not enjoying your profile because every time I’m scared to even look up my direct messages any more because it could be filled with anything.

“I don’t even have Twitter on my phone any more because it’s almost certain that you’re going to get some sort of abuse.”

Palace academy graduate Zaha felt sad for the 12-year-old who sent racist messages to him.

Hodgson on Zaha abuse: "The fact it's turned out to be a 12 y/o boy. If that is true, in some ways it's even more frightening because how does someone get educated at the age of 12 to post something as vile as he posted. It raises enormous questions about our educational system."

— George Sessions (@GeorgeSessions) July 15, 2020

He added: “How is a 12-year-old even thinking about that? Where has that hate come from?

“I understand he’s a 12-year-old and it’s sad that it’s a 12-year-old, but you got to be held accountable for the things that you say.

“The stuff that you said to me, ain’t just ‘Yeah, you black this…’ This is Ku Klux Klan. I didn’t even know about that stuff at the age of 12.”