Updates from Wednesday, May 7
Villarreal have been fined ¢12,000 for the incident that saw a fan throw a banana at Dani Alves.
The club's work in identifying the guilty party was taken into account when making the punishment, according to Spanish media outlet AS:
Spanish League have given Villarreal just a 12,000 euro fine for the banana thrown at Alves.— AS English (@English_AS) May 7, 2014
League's Competition Committee took into account the fact the supporter was identified and banned.— AS English (@English_AS) May 7, 2014
Updates from Friday, May 1
The arrest of David Campayo, the man charged with throwing a banana at Dani Alves, has sparked a protest in Spain.
AS, via Tom Conn of Inside Spanish Football, reports on the incident:
Thousands of protestors gathered in Vila-real to protest the “media lynching” of 26-year-old now-former Villarreal youth coach, David Campayo, who threw a banana from the stands at Barcelona’s Dani Alves, which led to an anti-racism campaign that spread like wildfire since Sunday evening’s incident.
Thursday’s protest was in support of the now-banned socio, stating that the media is guilty of “lynching to now end” and that they “have treated him without any respect."
Updates from Wednesday, April 30
The supporter who threw a banana in the direction of Dani Alves has now been arrested by police, according to multiple media outlets including Sky Sports News and the Daily Mail:
Spanish police arrest fan suspected of throwing a banana at Barcelona’s Dani Alves #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 30, 2014
BREAKING: Police in Spain arrest fan suspected of throwing a banana at Barcelona’s Dani Alves #fcb— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) April 30, 2014
The Associated Press (via DetroitNews.com) is reporting that the supporter faces 1-3 years in jail.
Updates from Monday, April 28
Barcelona released an official statement on Monday afternoon, supporting Dani Alves' actions during Sunday's away trip to Villarreal.
Responding to Alves' decision to eat a banana thrown at him by the crowd, Barcelona outlined the following view:
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.
FC 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. FC 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.
FC Barcelona reiterates its support for UEFA’s message of Respect and No to Racism and urges all clubs to continue fighting against the blight on the game which any kind of aggression against a sportsperson on the basis of their race represents.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff also offered support to the right-back, who has seen a host of fellow players—led by Neymar—post pictures of themselves eating a banana in what has become a social campaign:
BREAKING - Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has approved Neymar's campaign #somostodosmacacos to defend Alves and all black people.— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) April 28, 2014
Villarreal have also banned the fan for life (per Sky Sports News):
Villarreal issue life ban to fan who threw banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 28, 2014
Dani Alves remained unflustered as a banana landed at his feet during Barcelona's stunning comeback over Villarreal on Sunday. Lining up to swing in a corner, the Brazilian full-back peeled the fruit, nonchalantly took a bite and brushed his hands of the moronic attempt to racially abuse him.
It was a powerful reaction, the kind of response that ensures the perpetrator was given no satisfaction. After the game, Alves revealed that by battling racism in such a manner, those committing the offences aren't provided with any sense of triumph.
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," said Alves, reported by The Guardian. "You have to take it with a dose of humour. We aren't going to change things easily. If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
SB Nation Soccer posted a video of the moment:
Unfortunately for Spanish football, this is not the first incident of racism during the current La Liga campaign.
Back in November, FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticised Real Betis supporters who made racist gestures at Paulao—their own player—reported by BBC Sport. Real Madrid's Marcelo, another Brazilian, was also subject to abuse during the warm-down of Los Blancos' encounter with neighbours Atletico Madrid, per Dan Lucas of The Telegraph. The left-back hadn't played during the match.
Alves has previously acknowledged racism in Spain before. In 2011, he brushed off the threat of this mindset, suggesting it is something that will never leave the Spanish game.
"I live with racism in every game, but I'm not offended," Alves told Folha de Sao Paulo, via the Daily Mail. "Fans insult me and call me 'monkey.' At first I was quite shocked, but now I don't give it any importance. I have learned to live with it."
Alves outlined racists as "uncontrollable" and "uneducated," saying the problem "will not go away." Three years later, he remains correct.
The incident comes nearly a decade after black English players suffered audible abuse during an international match at the Bernabeu, suggesting racism isn't limited to the domestic scene, per Paul Kelso and Giles Tremlett of The Guardian.
In a separate incident, UEFA fined the Spanish Football Association after Mario Balotelli was abused during Euro 2012. Angel Villa Llona, president of the nation's governing body, also stated "there is no racism in Spanish football" after Thierry Henry was the victim of a racist barb from former Roja coach Luis Aragones—reported by the Daily Mail.
The issue spreads further afield in football. Kevin-Prince Boateng notoriously walked off the pitch after receiving abuse during his time with Milan, per Richard Arrowsmith of the Mirror. Balotelli has also endured similar treatment during his spells at the San Siro, while Lazio are among clubs to have unfurled anti-semitic banners during matches, noted by Tom Kington of the The Guardian.
Alves' latest incident, while famous for his reaction, shouldn't detract from the extremely serious nature of the incident. If he'd become upset or angry, perhaps a greater number of onlookers may have focused on the sport's phenomenal overlooking of human rights.
As it stands, Alves' response is drumming up headlines, not the abuse. Barcelona went on to win the match in dramatic fashion, coming back from 2-0 down to emerge victorious at 3-2, but another example of blatant racism threatens to pass by, signalling we can expect more of the same in the future.
Previous incidents highlight how a lack of serious punishment ensures such events will continue to take place. Alves should be applauded for not letting racists get to him, but in an ideal world, this situation isn't something he should have to face.