Alves sparks new anti-racism push

Dani Alves has been praised by several footballers after he ate a banana thrown at him during Barcelona's match at Villarreal

Dani Alves has been praised by several footballers after he ate a banana thrown at him during Barcelona's match at Villarreal

First published in National Sport News © by

Barcelona defender Dani Alves sparked an ingenious social media campaign against racism in football as support flooded in from fellow professionals for his decision to eat at banana thrown at him by an opposition fan.

Neymar, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez were among those who posted pictures of themselves taking bites out of bananas in tribute to Alves' unconventional actions in his side's Primera Division match at Villarreal on Sunday.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has branded the abuse directed at Alves an "outrage" and promised zero tolerance towards discrimination at the World Cup, while Villarreal took swift action by identifying the culprit and handing them a lifetime stadium ban.

Alves' response t o the banana being thrown on to the pitch in front of him as he prepared to take a corner was to nonchalantly pick it up, peel it and take a bite before continuing with the game.

The 30-year-old, who has been the victim of racist abuse before during his time in La Liga, said: "You need to take these situations with a dose of humour."

Players across Europe paid homage on Twitter and Instagram, including Suarez, who served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.

Alves' Barca and Brazil team-mate Neymar led the way after posting a picture on Instagram of himself holding a banana, while writing: "We are all monkeys."

Balotelli, AC Milan's former Manchester City striker, posted a picture of himself in a similar pose.

Suarez posted a picture on Twitter of himself and Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho taking bites out of bananas, along with the words: " #SayNoToRacism #WeAreAllMonkeys."

Argentina and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero put up an image of him and Brazil women's superstar Marta eating bananas, accompanied with the message: "With my colleague Marta from Brazil we say #NoToRacism. We are all equal."

Tottenham trio Emmanuel Adebayor, Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Liverpool's Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva all gave Alves their backing.

Blatter admitted he was appalled by the treatment of Alves.

The FIFA chief said on Twitter: "What @DaniAlvesD2 tolerated last night is an outrage. We must fight all forms of discrimination united. Will be zero tolerance at #WorldCup."

Barca gave their player their "complete support and solidarity" and thanked Villarreal for their " immediate condemnation" of the incident.

Villarreal later revealed they had, with the help of fans, found out who the culprit was, had withdrawn their season ticket and banned them from the El Madrigal stadium for life.

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