Prior to his Sunday match against Aston Villa, Zaha revealed he had received several racist and abusive messages on social media. West Midlands Police responded via social media to say they would investigate the incident.
Within a few hours, an arrest was made.
“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,” read a police statement. “The 12-year-old from Solihull has been taken to custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated.”
The posts come just two weeks after the Premier League launched a new system to allow the league’s players to report online abuse, Sky Sports reported.
The messages, which Zaha shared over Twitter, included threats, images of the KKK and photoshopped images, all of which used racial slurs.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said he supported Zaha’s decision to go public about the abuse.
“It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse,” Hodgson said. “I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it; I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about.”
“There is literally no excuse; there is no excuse at all.”
The Premier League also released a statement, calling the behavior “completely unacceptable” and voicing complete support for Zaha.
“We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse,” it said.
The Premier League has recently taken a harder stance on issues of racism, highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement with players kneeling together before kick-off in support of the movement.
Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace, 2-0.