Gary Lineker is among the high-profile figures who are urging strong action be taken against a football supporter who racially abused Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha on social media.
Zaha 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.
He 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 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.
Lineker took to Twitter after Zaha shared the messages and said: “This is abhorrent, and surely a criminal offence.”
His fellow Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright also took to social media, saying: “People like to make these experiences seem like it’s not the norm for black people. It’s always an outlier. ‘Not one of us’. ‘Not a real (insert club) fan’.These are real people & daily experiences!! Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it!!! We stand with you Wilf.”
Meanwhile Villa have released a statement which reads: “We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to @wilfriedzaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with
“We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson added: “It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse.
“I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it; I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about.
“I think it is very good that our club, Aston Villa and the Premier League are doing everything they can to find out who this despicable individual is and one can only hope that they will get identified and they will get called to account and they will pay for these actions.
“There is literally no excuse; there is no excuse at all.”