Wilfried Zaha calls out Twitter and Instagram over failure to tackle racism

While the frenzy over his future continues Wilfried Zaha has more important things to attend to.

The Crystal Palace winger has joined the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho in using his platform to demand action on the racist abuse he and others have endured for years.

For too long in football to be black has been to accept the things that past generations could not change. Bananas on the field back then, banana emojis and n-word slurs online now.

Zaha’s generation is determined to change all that.

“Yes, we are,” he told CNN Sport . “I'm so happy when I see these other young black players just not having it any more.

“I'm proud to see it because it's been too long. You can't just sit back and accept it. Enough is enough.

“How are you cheering me when I'm scoring? Then if I'm not doing what you're happy with I'm a monkey again? How does that make any sense?

“So I’m proud to see Raheem and Marcus speaking up and making a change.”

For Zaha, 27, the tipping point came two weeks ago when that 12-year-old targeted his Instagram account.

The social media firms claim to have tightened their rules to prevent such an action.

For Zaha – who believes all black players have received similar abuse at some stage – the tweaks go nowhere near far enough.

“Even after the 12-year-old, I reported 50 accounts that I was racially abused from that week,” he said. “What happens? Those accounts get blocked then they just make a new one straight afterwards?

“With everything that we register for these days, we have to give some sort of I.D.

“Why is it not the same for Instagram, or Twitter? Because that's where people tend to say what they really feel about people, no matter how hurtful or racist it is.

“I've gone through my Instagram account and there’s a section where you can block certain words.

I've had to go and write racist words that I don't want to see on my account – the monkey sign, black this, black that. All of it. I've tried myself because the social media platforms are obviously not doing enough.

“I know I speak for the majority of people going through this. I’ve seen Ian Wright and Raheem speak about it. It's not OK. Things have to be done. Words are not enough now. No more statements.

“You can register as a nine-year-old on Instagram and they wouldn't know. What age is it to register? Thirteen. The boy who abused me is twelve. How does he even get on there? What checks are they making?”

Zaha was just a teenager when he was first racially abused online.

“I was 17, 18,” he said. "It was before a game against Manchester United,” he said. “A message calling me ‘Black this and saying: ‘I hope you break your legs and go back to the slums of Croydon.’

“I thought to myself: ‘Why would someone send such hate for no reason?’ I just didn’t understand it.”

A life coach he has employed since has helped him not to respond to the thugs hell-bent on baiting him online.

For Zaha, however, success will be when players no longer have to sport Black Lives Matter slogans on the backs of their shirts to drive their anti-racism messaging home.

“We shouldn't have to put Black Lives Matter to show that we matter on the back of our shirts,” he said. “It’s 2020. Why is it even in dispute? We shouldn't still be sat here saying we matter and giving reasons why.

“So, yes, it's nice to see this effort now being put towards it. But I hope that pressure is sustained. There's no point me having a full blown interview here and then going back to racial abuse on my phone again.”

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