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Blatter backs Alves

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MADRID - FIFA president Sepp Blatter and several top players have come out in support of Barcelona's Dani Alves, who ate half of a banana that was thrown at him in a racist gesture during his side's 3-2 weekend win at Villarreal.

"I take these things with humour and try not to make a big drama out of them. What was the point in complaining?" he said afterward.

Alves is dark-skinned. Some fans have begun to make racist statements at games by throwing bananas at black players, implying that they are monkeys.

Alves then claimed that the energy given to him by the banana helped him to contribute to Barca's late comeback win.

Blatter tweeted on Monday: "What Alves had to tolerate is an outrage. There will be zero tolerance (of racism) at the World Cup."

The player's 64-year-old father, Domingos Alves, has shown that clever responses to racism run in the family.

"I plant mangos, coconuts, melons, watermelons, passion fruit — and now I'm going to plant bananas," he told media in his native Brazil.

He added he would be telling his son "not to eat any more bananas on the pitch."

Alves' mother Lucia Ribeiro added she was proud of her son's reaction, which she said was "a slap in the face for prejudice."

Alves himself joked on Twitter that "my father always told me to eat bananas to avoid getting cramp."

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, which is the host of the World Cup later this year, has joined the widespread outrage about the incident.

"The player Dani Alves gave a daring and strong response to racism in sports," she said in a series of Twitter messages, adding that such racism had become "unfortunately common."

In addition, several players have backed Alves' reaction. Manchester City's Sergio Aguero posted a photo of him with Brazilian female player Marta eating bananas in support.

Alves' Barca and Brazil colleague Neymar — who missed the game through injury — posted a picture of himself holding a banana in a demonstration of solidarity.

This gesture was repeated on Instagram by Chelsea's Brazilian trio of Oscar, David Luiz and Willian.

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