A 12 year-old boy has been arrested in the United Kingdom after sending “racist” messages to a multimillionaire black soccer player.
Wilfried Zaha, a player for British soccer team Crystal Palace, publicly released screenshots of offensive Instagram messages he had received without the name of the sender being redacted.
“Woke up to this today,” Zaha wrote on Twitter, before doxxing the young child.
“You better not score tomorrow, you black cunt,” the boy had wrote. “Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.”
The boy had then sent an image of a group of Klansmen, and an edited parody Corn Flakes box with the title ‘Coon Flakes’.
The boy appeared to be a fan of Aston Villa, a rival soccer team to Crystal Palace. As elsewhere in Europe, soccer team rivalries run deep in British culture.
Aston Villa, in an attempt to virtue signal, then reported their own fan to the police and pledged to issue him a lifetime ban upon identification.
“We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to [Zaha]. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with [Crystal Palace],” the team wrote in a statement. “We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban.”
West Midlands Police Department later announced they had arrested a 12 year-old boy for sending the mocking messages to the wealthy soccer player, and thanked people for reporting the boy.
“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,” they announced on Twitter. “The 12-year-old from #Solihull has been taken to custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated.”
Hate speech is illegal in the United Kingdom, and is punishable by a maximum of a 7 year prison sentence as well as a substantial fine.
The Washington Post reports on the actions taken by the British Premier League, the main soccer league in the country, as a result of Zaha’s overreaction to the boy’s messages:
In a reply to Zaha’s tweet, the Premier League said that the messages sent to Zaha were “completely unacceptable” and that it stands with him “in opposing this, and discrimination in any form.” The league added a hashtag, #NoRoomForRacism, that it debuted Tuesday as part of a campaign to “tackle discrimination across all areas of football.”
The league also noted that last month it rolled out a “dedicated reporting system for players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse.”