FIFA president Sepp Blatter has described the racism directed at Barcelona defender Dani Alves on Sunday as an “outrage” and promised zero tolerance towards discrimination at the World Cup.
Alves yesterday received growing support from his fellow professionals on social media following his unconventional handling of the abuse he suffered during the Primera Division match at Villarreal.
In response to a banana being thrown on to the pitch in front of him as he prepared to take a corner, Alves nonchalantly picked it up, peeled it and took a bite before continuing with the game. Villarreal said they had identified the culprit, whom they did not name, and had withdrawn their membership and banned them from the stadium for life.
Alves, 30, has previously been the victim of racist abuse during his time in La Liga and he said after the match: “You need to take these situations with a dose of humour. I’ve spent 11 years in Spain and it’s been the same for 11 years. You need to take it almost as a joke and laugh at these retards.”
The Brazil international’s unusual reaction to what took place has hit the headlines and he has received increasing backing from the world of football, with Blatter admitting he is appalled by what happened.
The Fifa chief also reiterated the world governing body’s stance against racism and insisted that similar incidents will not be tolerated at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Blatter tweeted: “What @DaniAlvesD2 tolerated last night is an outrage. We must fight all forms of discrimination united. Will be zero tolerance at #WorldCup.”
The likes of Sergio Aguero, Neymar and women’s superstar Marta also took to Twitter and Instagram to show their backing for Alves’s actions, which took place during the second half of Barca’s dramatic 3-2 comeback win at El Madrigal. Alves’s Barca and Brazil team-mate Neymar led the way after posting a picture on Instagram of himself holding a banana on Sunday night while writing “We are all monkeys”, and on Monday that image had been replicated by several other players.
Argentina and Manchester City striker Aguero followed suit with a picture of him and Brazil women’s superstar Marta taking a bite from bananas, accompanied by the message: “With my colleague Marta from Brazil we say #NoToRacism. We are all equal.” Tottenham duo Nacer Chadli and Moussa Dembele were also pictured eating bananas with a message supporting the fight against racism, while Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva gave his compatriot similar backing.
Togo and Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor added on his Twitter account: “Massive respect to danid2ois, there is no place for Racism in Football. #saynotoracism.”
The racist incident, which occurred in the 75th minute of the match when Barca were trailing 2-1 and in the middle of a comeback from 2-0 down, was also condemned by Barca in a statement released yesterday in which the Catalan giants gave Alves their full backing. The statement read: “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 during the game against Villarreal. Barcelona accepts that the perpetrators of these insults are in no way connected to Villarreal and we value very positively the support the club offered to our player.
“The club’s immediate condemnation of the incidents is a step in the right direction to firstly isolate and then eradicate completely from the sporting arena this kind of behaviour.
“Barcelona reiterates its support for Uefa’s message of Respect and No to Racism.”
BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon
THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.
The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.
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