Footballer takes a bite out of racism, after banana lands at his feet
The Associated Press
Published Monday, April 28, 2014 11:08AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2014 1:15PM EDT
BARCELONA, Spain -- Barcelona defender Dani Alves has received an outpouring of support for his response to a racist taunt during a game, with other players posting photos of themselves with bananas on the Internet.
Alves, who is black, was about to take a corner in Sunday's 3-2 win at Villarreal when a banana was thrown at him. The Brazil international picked it up, peeled it and ate some of it before throwing the rest aside.
After the match, Alves said humour was the best way to combat racism in sport.
"Barcelona wishes to express its complete support and solidarity with our first team player Dani Alves, following the insults he was subject to from a section of the crowd at El Madrigal on Sunday," the Spanish league champions said Monday in a statement. "Barcelona urges all clubs to continue fighting against the blight on the game which any kind of aggression against a sportsperson on the basis of their race represents."
Barcelona teammate Neymar posted a photo of himself on Instagram holding a peeled banana alongside his son, who was holding a doll that resembled a banana.
Fellow Brazil teammates Hulk and Fred also lent support via their social media accounts.
Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Brazil women's striker Marta both posed for photos while biting into bananas, while former Brazil international Roberto Carlos also posted an internet photo of himself with the fruit.
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said Sunday. "You have to take it with a dose of humour. We aren't going to change things easily. If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who has been actively condemning racist acts in Brazilian football, also expressed her support to Alves.
"The player had a daring and strong response to racism in sport," she wrote on her official Twitter account. "Confronted by something that unfortunately has become too common in stadiums, Alves had attitude."
Rousseff praised Neymar for getting behind his teammate and reiterated that Brazil will "raise the flag against racial discrimination" during the World Cup.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter also weighed in on Twitter, saying that "what (Alves) tolerated last night is an outrage." He added that there "will be zero tolerance" at the World Cup.
The match referee on Sunday included the 75th-minute incident in his match report, so Villarreal could face a fine.
Alves has often been subjected to racist taunts and called fighting racism "a lost war" in January 2013 after segments of Real Madrid's fans abused him with monkey chants during a match. Madrid defender Marcelo, who is also Brazilian, was also recently greeted with monkey chants by a section of Atletico Madrid fans this season.
Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o was convinced not to walk off at Zaragoza in 2006 after fans berated the Cameroon striker with racist chants. Two years earlier, Spain fans at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium infamously greeted England's black players with monkey chants during an international friendly match.