MADRID (AP) — Barcelona defender Dani Alves has received an outpouring of support for his response to a racist taunt during a game, while Villarreal issued a lifetime ban to the season-ticket holder who threw a banana at him.
Alves, who is black, was about to take a corner in Sunday's 3-2 win at Villarreal's El Madrigal Stadium when a banana landed on the pitch in front of him. The Brazil international picked it up, peeled it and ate some of it before throwing the rest aside.
"Villarreal deeply regrets and condemns the incident that happened," Villarreal said in a statement on Monday. "The club has already identified the (culprit) and has decided to withdraw his season tickets, permanently."
After the match, Alves said humor was the best way to combat racism in sport. That sentiment has led fellow football players, officials and even political figures from around the globe to respond with solidarity by picturing themselves eating a banana.
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 humor. 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, while Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Italy national team coach Cesare Prandelli also shared a banana in a photograph.
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