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SBD Global/April 29, 2014/International Football

Barcelona's Alves Receives Wave Of Support Across Social Media Following Racist Incident

Barcelona's Dani Alves has received support for his response to racist incident.
Barcelona has "formally condemned the racist abuse" directed at Dani Alves during the team's 3-2 La Liga win at Villarreal on Sunday, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN. As Alves "went to take a corner late in the game a banana was thrown onto the pitch at El Madrigal." Alves reacted by "reaching down and picking up the fruit, peeling it and eating it before restarting the game." The incident was "captured live on TV coverage, leading to another debate about racism in Spanish football both inside and outside the country." Villarreal issued a "life ban to the supporter who threw the banana." Barcelona said in a statement it released on Monday, "FC Barcelona would like to underline the civil, cultural, social and sporting importance of two messages which UEFA remind us of before every game: Respect and No to Racism." Villarreal released a statement confirming the ban, which said, "Villarreal CF wants to communicate that the club deeply regrets and condemns the incident that happened yesterday during the match against FC Barcelona in which a fan threw an object onto the field of El Madrigal." Alves said of the incident and his reaction, "If you do not take it like this can you can suffer. I have been 11 years in Spain, and 11 years suffering the same thing. In the end I took it as a joke. We are not going to change this, unhappily, but I think if you do not give importance to it, then they will not achieve their objective. So you must take it like that." Alves also "posted a video of the incident to his personal Instagram account while Neymar uploaded three separate images highlighting what had happened, including a photo of himself and his young son, both smiling while holding their own bananas, with the hashtag #weareallmonkeys" (ESPN, 4/28). The EFE reported FIFA President Sepp Blatter "harshly condemned the fan who threw the banana at Alves" and announced that there will "be zero tolerance for racism during the World Cup." Blatter tweeted, "What @DaniAlvesD2 tolerated last night is an outrage. We must fight all forms of discrimination united. Will be zero tolerance at #WorldCup" (EFE, 4/28). The EFE reported in a separate piece Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Ángel María Villar said that "Spanish football is against racism and xenophobia." Villar, however, "did not want to comment further on the subject." He said that the incident "will go before the RFEF's Competition Committee" (EFE, 4/28).

UEFA UNABLE TO ACT: In London, Giuseppe Muro reported UEFA on Monday confirmed that it is "down to" the RFEF to punish Villarreal. UEFA will not "open disciplinary proceedings against Villarreal because the game falls under Spanish FA regulations." A UEFA spokesperson said, "It falls under the national association’s regulations. They will take action, if needed, according to their own regulations." The incident is the "latest in a worrying line of racism cases in Spanish football." Real Madrid defender Marcelo was "subjected to racist abuse" from Atlético Madrid fans earlier this season. Supporters also "targeted Italy forward Mario Balotelli at Euro 2012" (EVENING STANDARD, 4/28).

SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT: In Barcelona, Ángel Pérez Serrano wrote "from the exact instant when Alves grabbed the banana and ate it, displays of disgust toward the individual who threw the banana were unleashed on social media and on the majority of sports websites throughout the world." Many "echoed each other and condemned the racist action" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 4/28). In London, David Kent reported Alves received support from "Premier League players including Sergio Aguero, David Luiz, Oscar, Willian, Nacer Chadli and Moussa Dembele." Other figures inside and outside football who posted messages and pictures on social media in support of Alves included TV presenter Marilo Montero, Zenit St. Petersburg's Hulk and Liverpool's Luis Suarez, among others (DAILY MAIL, 4/28).
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