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Hodgson issues powerful message on racist abuse in football

15 July 2020

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson issued a lengthy and powerful message in light of the recent racist abuse of Wilfried Zaha.

Before taking on Aston Villa, Zaha shared a series of racist messages sent to him via social media. Hodgson condemned them as “cowardly and despicable abuse” on the day, and has repeated those sentiments today.

"As someone involved football at this level," he said, "I’m very proud of what the players have done, proud of what Kick It Out has done for the game and that’s not just since ‘black lives matter’, that goes back way beyond that.

"But the bottom line is these things are still happening, players are still being abused in this way and it affects their mental welfare, there’s no doubt about that.

"For Wilf to receive this on the day of a game and then be expected to go out a couple of hours later and perform and forget about it, I think that’s asking something which isn’t humanly possible. The mind doesn’t function that way.

"Of course, you realise all the time that these posts are possible and people can often hide behind them and not even be identified having made the post. I don’t quite know what more football and football people can do other than take the strongest possible stance and then hopefully catch any culprits and then punish them or educate them, as the case might be.

"I have no idea how change can be forced on social media. I am absolutely not an expert at all on social media, how it functions and what could be done to stop this type of thing happening from the social media platforms. I’m afraid I’ll have to leave that to the people who know all about it.

"Has Wilf got the character and desire to step forward in the same way Raheem Sterling has and shown himself to be someone who’s prepared to stand out there and stand up for the rights that all people should have and to fight the injustice? Yes, he’s strong enough. But how he can do it, what he can do and what change he can bring about, I really do not know."

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