April 29 (Reuters) – Dani Alves has hit out at Spain for being “very backward” in its approach towards racism and believes the fan who hurled a banana on the pitch in Barcelona’s game away to Villarreal on Sunday should be publicly shamed.
Images of the Brazilian picking up the banana and taking a bite were beamed around the world and he was widely backed by the football community and celebrities.
Villarreal subsequently announced they had given the supporter a life ban but Alves, who has criticised the level of racism in Spain before, felt it was not enough.
“If I could, I would put a photo of the fan on the internet so that he would be shamed,” Alves told Brazil’s Radio Globo.
“There is racism against foreigners. They sell the country as being first world but in certain things they are very backward.”
Dozens of footballers and Brazilian celebrities backed a campaign launched within moments of the incident by Alves’s Barcelona and Brazil team mate Neymar.
Neymar has also been the target of racists and had prepared an internet campaign in anticipation of another incident.
He quickly pushed the button on the campaign using the hashtag #weareallmonkeys in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
He sent a picture of himself and his son eating bananas via Instagramm and Twitter and thousands of fans followed suit.
Brazil team mates David Luiz, Hulk and Oscar all posted pictures, as did Italian coach Cesare Prandelli and Claudia Leitte, the singer who will perform at the World Cup’s closing ceremony in July.
AC Milan’s Mario Ballotelli and English Player of the Year Luis Suarez, who was himself banned for eight games last year after an FA investigation found he used racist language against Patrice Evra, also participated.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff backed Alves, tweeting that his response was “a bold and strong response to racism in sport” and several Brazilian newspapers put the campaign on their front pages on Tuesday.
Alves admitted he did not expect his actions to receive so much attention.
“I have been surprised by everyone’s support. I did it without thinking. The world has evolved and we must evolve with it.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was among those who backed the player and tweeted that racism cannot be tolerated.
Alves said that the world governing body should be more proactive.
“FIFA must concentrate on things more important than La Masia. They need to give their attention to more serious things,” he said, referring to the recent verdict that Barcelona were guilty of breaching regulations over the transfer of under-age players.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Downie in Sao Paulo; (Editing by Martyn Herman))