Wilfried Zaha has called out some of the sickening racist abuse he has received on social media.
The Crystal Palace star has revealed he has been sent a series of offensive messages on Instagram from an Aston Villa fan ahead of the Premier League game at Villa Park on Sunday.
Zaha posted several screenshots on his social accounts on the morning of the match, showing someone claiming to support the opposition team sending him racist insults and photographs.
The 27-year-old tweeted the images along with the caption: “Woke up to this today.”
Supporters of both sides have roundly condemned the abuse in the hours before kick-off, sending messages of solidarity with the Palace striker.
The racist messages included a threat to “come to your house” if Zaha scores against Villa, paired with references to the Ku Klux Clan and an image of people wearing white hoods.
West Midlands Police, the force responsible for the area where Villa are based, said it is working to identify the owner of the account.
Crystal Palace Football Club quickly came out in defence of its leading player.
It responded via Twitter : “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.”
Aston Villa has yet to issue a club response to the incident, but supporter Stewart Hawtin tweeted: “That is disgusting Wilf. They have nothing to do with my club.
Rob Warner added: “On behalf of rational Villa fans, I apologise. I’d love to say ‘he’s not a real Villa fan’ but to dismiss it like that is to fail to admit it's a problem every club has. Disowning these tw*ts gets us nowhere. Acceptance and education is our only hope. Keep standing tall.”
"Please report them to the authorities. I hope you score today and send us down. I’m appalled. So sorry.”
Zaha previously spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a police officer in the United States.
He shared the joint statement by Premier League footballers: “We, the players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their colour or creed.”
Players, coaches and officials have continued to take a knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter before the start of every match since English football resumed after the coronavirus lockdown.
Zaha has been named in the starting line-up for the trip to Aston Villa and both teams are expected to continue with the anti-racist gestures.
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