Wilfried Zaha wasn’t born in south London, but he was raised there from the age of four, and it’s clear that the community — and Crystal Palace, his boyhood club since the age of 12 — mean a great deal to him.
In response to a Guardian report, the 25-year-old Ivory Coast international has pledged “a substantial financial contribution” to alleviate some of the financial troubles of Crystal Palace Ladies — some of which falls at the feet of the players themselves, and was reportedly threatening their employment with the club’s reserve team.
According the report, reserve players were told they must raise £250 (roughly $322) through sponsorships, or pay out of their own pockets. The alternative? They would be unable to play for the club without paying the requisite annual membership fees.
The club has since denied the report in a statement, saying, “We encourage players to seek personal sponsorship to help raise the club’s profile and build links with the business community, but it is not a condition of playing for Palace Ladies.
“All our other teams operate on an amateur basis and, as with any grass-roots membership club, players pay an annual subscription fee. To help the development of our reserve team players, we have heavily subsidized their annual membership fees.”
In the end, it all appears to be a moot point, as Zaha has put to very good use one small piece of his new contract which pays him a reported $168,000 per week.
“Everyone knows what Crystal Palace means to Wilf and he wants to give the same opportunities to the next generation of aspiring players at Palace Ladies that he enjoyed when coming up through junior teams.”