David Campayo became a symbol of racism in football after throwing a banana in the direction of Barcelona defender Dani Alves during a match against Villarreal on April 27, but not everyone is outraged by his actions.
According to Eurosport, a massive rally was held Thursday in support of Campayo, 26, who was removed from his position as a Villarreal youth coach.
The Miami Herald reported that there were roughly 800 people attending the protest.
In addition to losing his spot with Villarreal, Campayo was arrested, per SportsCenter:
Man who threw banana at Barcelona defender Dani Alves arrested on charges related to racist provocation. » http://t.co/jUXn8ei7Rf— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 30, 2014
Despite that, Campayo's supporters insist that he is not racist. As seen in this video, his uncle claims that the incident was simply a misunderstanding that the media has blown out of proportion:
Eight hundred people reportedly attended the rally, according to AP. Many in the crowd said they didn't support Campayo's action, but were protesting the 'media lynching' after the action.
Racism has been a major issue in the sport over the past several years, so a zero tolerance policy has rightly been instituted.
Villarreal president Fernando Roig didn't want to do anything to alienate the rest of his club's fanbase for the actions of one person, so he and authorities acted swiftly and decisively, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPNFC.com.
You cannot judge a club or its fans by the actions of one person who furthermore has already been identified. It is not fair for a group to pay for the action of one individual. We have moved quickly and put the author in the hands of the police and the courts. I repeat that it was a reprehensible action and for that we have expelled the author as a socio (member) and for life from the pitch. He cannot come near our facilities.
One positive that has come out of this situation is the outpouring of support in favor of Alves. The Brazilian star picked up the banana and ate it after it was thrown in his direction, which led to an anti-racism campaign across social media.
As seen in this photo courtesy of Huffington Post UK, a number of famous athletes and public figures posed with bananas in a display of solidarity:
As far as Campayo is concerned, people have every right to show support for him if they so choose, but it certainly reflects poorly upon the Villarreal fanbase.
Even if the vast majority of Villarreal fans are disgusted by the act, the public support of Campayo is what the media picks up on.
Regardless of the protests, Villarreal and La Liga must stand firmly behind the decision, and all signs point to that being the case. Perhaps their strong disciplinary action will curtail similar situations in the future.
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