ZURICH/BARCELONA: World federation FIFA has joined in the condemnation of the banana-throwing incident aimed at Barcelona’s Dani Alves.
During Sunday’s dramatic 3-2 win at Villarreal the Brazil rightback was about to take a corner when the banana landed on the pitch. He picked it up, peeled it, took a bite and then away the rest.
Dani’s quick thinking was applauded widely but not, of course, the origin of the incident. Match referee David Fernandez Borbalan has reported it to the Spanish federation which will discuss disciplinary action tomorrow/Tuesday.
FIFA, which has stepped up its approach to racist behaviour over the past 18 months, condemned the incident.
In a statement the world federation was “sad to see such racist incidents continue to occur in football.” It added: “There should be no room for racism in football but several recent incidents show that the fight is not over.”
FIFA reiterated its call for “zero tolerance” against discrimination and called on the football community to unite to “eradicate racism and discrimination from football and society.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also supported the player, via Twitter, saying: “Dani Alves gave a bold and strong response to racism in sports.”
Other individuals who have both condemned the incident and applauded Dani’s response included Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola as well as Barcelona players including fellow Brazilian Neymar.
Dani said: “We have suffered this in Spain for some time. You have to take it with a dose of humour.”
Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva also praised the full-back, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations on your attitude yesterday. We are together on this fight against racism.”
Alves has been a regular target of racist abuse during his 12 years in Spain with both Sevilla and Barcelona.
In January 2013, he complained of racist abuse after a cup-tie against Real Madrid. Referring specifically to Sunday’s incident, which took place after 75 minutes, he said: “If you don’t give it importance, they don’t achieve their objective.”
Alves, 30, had been involved in Barcelona’s first two goals as they came from 2-0 down against Villarreal to win 3-2 at El Madrigal.
His cross was deflected into the Villarreal net by Gabriel Armando on 65 minutes. Then another cross was deflected home by Mateo Musacchio 13 minutes later.
Lionel Messi secured sealed the comeback seven minutes from time to reach the 40-goal mark in all competitions for the fifth successive season.
Victory lifted coach Gerardo Martino’s team to second in the table, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and two ahead of Real Madrid.
Barca and Atletico have three matches left, but Real, who play Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals tomorrow, have a game in hand. Atletico face Chelsea in the second semi-final on Wednesday.