Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has opened up on racism in the Premier League by saying that he gets racially abused in most matches he plays for the South London side.
The Premier League has witnessed a shocking resurgence of racist abuse in football, with a number of high-profile incidents this season involving players such as Mo Salah, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“Nearly every game I’m called a monkey or a n***** or a whatever,” Zaha told The Jackal magazine in a new interview, “Imagine if I really got down about that?”
“I don’t know if we’re animals to them or whatever. Why is this OK? Why are you saying these things right next to your five-year-old kid? And then, when you leave, what, you’re back to being a normal dad, working a normal job? People mask this stuff.”
Kick It Out revealed last November there was an 11% increase in reports of discriminatory abuse during the 2017-18 campaign. However, those figures do not include unreported allegations of abuse – and Zaha opened up on how tiresome it has become to report the abuse.
Continuing the conversation, Zaha said: “Do you know how tiring it is, being angry? It’s a waste of time. There’s so much more to be happy about. For a couple of weeks, I’ve been speaking to a kind of life coach. With football, you get to a point where you start to think, ‘Do I still love it, or am I doing it as a job?
“Going into a game with that mentality, that hunger, ‘I want to score, I want to score’. Just saying stuff to myself like, ‘I’ll make a difference to today’s game’. And when I go, blaze music in the car until I get there. The only thing that can prevent me from reaching my goal is my mentality, or injury.”
The Premier League have recently outlined new proposals to attempt to tackle racism in the game, accepting that “more is needed and we are committed to delivering it.” Raheem Sterling recently signed a manifesto lead by The Times which outlined more dramatic sanctions against racism in the game, in a move that signified how tired targeted players such as Zaha and Sterling are becoming with the same old schemes to address racism in the game.