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"I witnessed Wilfried Zaha being racially abused on a couple of occasions" - Damien Delaney

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

19:42 22 Oct 2019

Damien Delaney has praised former Crystal Palace team-mate Wilfried Zaha for the way he has dealt with the racial abuse he has suffered over the years.

Speaking on the Off The Ball Newsround in a week in which Manchester United banned an individual for alleged racist abuse against Liverpool, Delaney spoke about the times he witnessed Zaha being on the receiving end.

"I did witness Wilfried Zaha being racially abused on a couple of occasions," he said.

"It's difficult. You're on the pitch and you're kind of wondering, 'What can I do here? Is there anything that I can do?' Because you can see guys blatantly doing monkey noises at him when he's over on the touchline.

"He actually got a ban once I think because he reacted and he stuck his middle finger up at the fans. But it was going on forever and he lost his temper.

"But it's difficult - it would be very hard for me to comment on it because I've not been on the receiving end of it - but he handled it absolutely fantastically well on a weekly basis."

"Goes Beyond Football"

But Delaney also highlighted the importance of not confining the issue to just football.

"It goes beyond football. These people don't just come to football to be racist," he said.

"They are racist - so they are racist in their everyday life. With football, they feel they have a licence to let it out or be a bit more open.

"Sometimes people get caught up in the moment and their true feelings come out."

He also recalled an anecdote at a supporters' forum amid a climate of heightened tensions during the current political climate.

"Somebody asked a question about the EDL - the English Defence League. And apparently they've a fairly prominent section at football games," he recalled.

"Crystal Palace is a massively diverse football area, first and foremost. You look at Croydon and the south London area really, it's so diverse. It's always been a very open club and also very proactive in doing so. And they did take a stance on [dealing with the issue].

He added: "I remember the summer after Brexit happened, you did start to notice a little bit more."

You can watch the full Newsround with Damien Delaney on YouTube:


Read more about

Crystal Palace Damien Delaney Jamie Carragher Liverpool Manchester United Off The Ball Premier League Wilfried Zaha

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