Police arrest 12-year-old boy over racist messages sent to Wilfried Zaha

Police investigating a series of racist messages sent to a Premier League footballer have arrested a 12-year-old boy.

On Sunday, West Midlands Police said they were looking into messages sent to Crystal Palace player Wilfried Zaha's Instagram account.

Zaha, who also plays for the Ivory Coast national team, posted screenshots of the messages he received on his Twitter on Sunday morning with the caption: "Woke up to this today."

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Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Bournemouth and Crystal Palace at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England, Saturday, June 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Will Oliver,Pool)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park in Birmingham, England, Sunday, July 12, 2020. (Tim Keeton/Pool Photo via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park in Birmingham, England, Sunday, July 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Rui Viera, Pool)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park, in London, England, Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Peter Cziborra/Pool via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha warms up prior of the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park, in London, England, Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Justin Tallis/Pool via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha prepares to throw the ball into pay during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park, in London, England, Monday, June 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Hannah McKay,Pool)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park, London, Monday, Dec 16, 2019. (Nigel French/PA via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha takes the ball forward during their English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, England Saturday, Aug., 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha looks on during the English Premier League soccer match between Sheffield United and Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha reacts to a missed chance during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Huddersfield at the Selhurst Park stadium, London. Saturday, March. 30, 2019 (Isabel Infantes/PA via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game, during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Crystal Palace, at Turf Moor, in Burnley, England, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (Nigel French/PA via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha appeals the referee's decision, during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United, at Selhurst Park, in London, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.(Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England. Saturday, April 7, 2018. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)
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The 27-year-old had been sent racist imagery as well as abusive messages.

"You better not score tomorrow you black c***," one read.

That was followed by a second message reading: "Or I'll come to your house dressed as a ghost."

The force told Zaha they were looking into the account holder and encouraged him to report it to his local police force.

On Sunday afternoon, West Midlands Police confirmed they had arrested a boy from Warwickshire after examining the messages.

They tweeted: "We were alerted to a series of racist messages sent to a footballer today and after looking into them and conducting checks, we have arrested a boy.

"The 12-year-old from Solihull has been taken to custody.

"Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won't be tolerated."

Palace manager Roy Hodgson earlier praised the player for going public having been the target of "cowardly and despicable" racist abuse.

After Zaha posted the messages on social media, anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out tweeted: "We are extremely disappointed that Wilf Zaha has once again been the subject of targeted racial abuse.

"Those who continue to select professional sportspeople in this way, need to be brought to justice and face the strongest consequences #KickItOut."

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