World Football

Dani Alves and the World Football Figures Who Have Taken a Stand Against Racism

Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterApril 28, 2014

Dani Alves and the World Football Figures Who Have Taken a Stand Against Racism

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Dani Alves took a bite out of racism on Sunday.

    About to take a corner-kick when a banana was thrown at him, the right-back picked up the fruit, peeled it and bit off a chunk before delivering the ball into Villarreal's 18-yard box.

    "We have suffered this in Spain for some time," the Brazilian remarked after the match, as per the BBC. "You have to take it with a dose of humour."

    Not every reaction to racist abuse in football has been as cheeky, which is understandable given the horrific treatment suffered by countless players based on skin colour and origin.

    But many of the sport's leading figures, including players, managers and even clubs themselves have bravely taken stands against racism, and over the next few slides we'll highlight 10 who have combated the problem with words and actions.

10. Edgar Davids

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    Edgar Davids has never shied away from calling out some of world football's biggest names for alleged racist remarks.

    In 2012, the Suriname-born midfielder and former Netherlands international took to BBC Sport to demand an apology from Dutch icon Johan Cruyff, whom he accused of racism following Cruyff's comments that Davids only had a place on the Ajax board because he was black.

    Davids has also challenged comments made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who once claimed on-field racist incidents could be resolved by a handshake, as per CNN:

    What Blatter said was inexcusable, but he apologised. Something like that also happened in Holland when Johan Cruyff made a racist comment. He did it but he didn't apologise.

9. Ian Holloway

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    Never one to keep quiet, Ian Holloway has frequently let loose about racism in football.

    In October 2012, following an Under-21 match in Serbia in which England's youngsters were subjected to racial abuse, the former Blackpool and Crystal Palace manager, currently at Millwall, told BBC Radio Lancashire that UEFA needed to come down on Serbia "like a pile of bricks."

    Then, following a racist incident involving a Stoke City supporter and Blackpool player Jason Euell, Holloway remarked that the colour of Euell's skin "shouldn’t matter" and that "we are all human beings," per the Blackpool Gazette.

8. Roberto Carlos

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    Former Real Madrid and Brazil wing-back Roberto Carlos spoke out against racial abuse while at Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in June 2011.

    Carlos, who had been handed a banana by a Krylya Sovietov Samara supporter, later said he found the incident "disgusting," especially as it had followed a similar act of racism committed by a Zenit St. Petersburg fan a few months’ prior.

    According to Metro, Carlos said:

    I'm outraged by the sickening behaviour of this fan, who, in fact, insulted not only me but all the players. I hope the Russian federation, UEFA and FIFA will give an adequate evaluation to this disgusting incident.

7. Lilian Thuram

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Lilian Thuram is on a crusade to educate people about racism.

    In a 2012 interview with Sports Illustrated the 1998 World Cup winner remarked that "people aren't born racist—they become racist."

    He added:

    When I talk to children I can tell they have no notion of difference based on skin colour. To explain racism is, above all, to explain that it's a construction—an intellectual and political one.

    In 2010 Thuram, who represented Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona during a distinguished career as a central defender, published his book, Mes Etoiles Noires: De Lucy a Barack Obama (My Black Stars: From Lucy to Barack Obama).

    He has also encouraged white footballers to take a stand against racism, telling the BBC last November that "the action of not saying anything...makes you an accomplice."

6. Kevin-Prince Boateng

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    In January 2013, Kevin-Prince Boateng, having suffered racial abuse during a friendly match against Pro Patria, led his entire AC Milan team off the pitch in protest.

    "I’m sad and angry that I’m the one that has to take action," he told CNN, adding, "I don't care what game it is—a friendly, Italian league of Champions League match—I would walk off again."

    A later report published by German outlet SportBildPlus, and relayed by ESPN FC, claimed the Ghana international had left Serie A for the Bundesliga "because of racist incidents."

5. FC St. Pauli

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    Philipp Guelland

    St. Pauli might be the coolest club in Europe.

    Enshrined in its constitution and espoused by its supporters are anti-homophobia and anti-racist values, and in 2010 it held a tournament for refugees newly arrived in Hamburg.

    "We were the first club wearing T-shirts, saying that racist things were forbidden at a time no one in Germany cared about these things," supporters organiser Sven Brux told CNN when the club was promoted to the Bundesliga ahead of the 2010-11 season.

    "Our fans were the first to say we don’t want these things in football."

    St. Pauli have also taken stands for and against various political issues and once lifted the flag of Tibet at their stadium, as per CNN.

4. Stan Collymore

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    SCOTT HEPPELL

    Stan Collymore has taken the fight against racism into the realm of social media.

    Earlier this year the former Liverpool and Aston Villa forward, and current talkSPORT pundit, challenged Twitter to do more to prevent internet abuse.

    "I accuse Twitter directly of not doing enough to combat racist/homophobic/sexist hate messages, all of which are illegal in the UK," he said, according to the BBC.

    Collymore has also received support from several police forces, including that of Staffordshire, whose chief inspector Carl Ratcliffe told the BBC that people who think "anything said or done on Twitter or Facebook somehow doesn’t count" were "very wrong."

3. Samuel Eto'o

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    In 2005, with his Barcelona side visiting Real Zaragoza, Samuel Eto'o was subjected to monkey chants from the stands at La Romareda.

    He responded by scratching his armpits and jumping around on the pitch.

    "If they're going to treat me like a monkey, I'm going to dance like a monkey," he said, according to the Guardian.

    The following season, the Romareda crowd again abused Eto'o, who this time walked over to Zaragoza defender Alvaro—also black—grabbed his arm and held it up to the crowd.

2. Ruud Gullit

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    In 1998 Ruud Gullit, at the time a star for both AC Milan and the Netherlands, recorded the hit single "South Africa"—an anti-apartheid anthem—with the reggae group Revelation Time, and his part in the struggle against apartheid was said to have been a "great inspiration" to Nelson Mandela, according to Africa is a Country.

    More recently, Gullit's column in the Daily Mail encouraged players who had suffered racial abuse to walk off the pitch, and ahead of Euro 2012 and the reports of racism in Poland and Ukraine, he praised Cameroon star Samuel Eto'o for returning back down the tunnel while at Barcelona, per the Daily Record.

1. Dani Alves

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    And so we come back to Dani Alves.

    In peeling and eating the banana thrown at him, the Brazil international made a high-profile mockery of racism, and he is rightfully earning considerable plaudits for the act.

    But the fight doesn't end here.

    As Ian Holloway wrote in a column for the Mirror: "Racism is an issue you can’t go soft on. [FIFA and UEFA] have now got to introduce a zero-tolerance policy. Any racist chanting and you get kicked out of the competition."

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