Barcelona backs player in racist banana taunt

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Barcelona’s Dani Alves centre shoots during the final of the Copa del Rey between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Barcelona’s Dani Alves centre shoots during the final of the Copa del Rey between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona defender Dani Alves has received an outpouring of support for his response to a racist taunt during a game, with other players posting online photos of themselves with bananas.

Alves, who is black, was about to take a corner kick during 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 humor was the best way to combat racism in sports.

Barcelona expressed its “complete support and solidarity” with Alves. It added in a statement that all clubs must “continue fighting against the blight on the game.”

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 through social media.

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 humor. We aren’t going to change things easily. If you don’t give it importance, they don’t achieve their objective.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter also weighed in on Twitter, calling the racist taunt an “outrage.” He added that there “will be zero tolerance” for such conduct at the World Cup.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who has been actively condemning racist acts in Brazilian soccer, wrote on Twitter: “The player had a daring and strong response to racism in sport. 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.

The referee Sunday included the taunt in the 75th minute 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 some Real Madrid fans abused him with monkey chants during a match. Madrid defender Marcelo, who is also Brazilian, was recently greeted with monkey chants by a section of Atletico Madrid fans this season.

In a 2006 game at Zaragoza, fans berated former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon with racist chants. Two years earlier, Spain fans at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium greeted England’s black players with monkey chants during an exhibition match.

Associated Press

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