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Barca back Alves after racist abuse

Barcelona have formally condemned the racist abuse suffered by Blaugrana right-back Dani Alves during Sunday’s 3-2 La Liga win at Villarreal.

Corrigan: Spanish football has head in sand
• Tomas: The memory of Tito Vilanova lifts Barca

As Alves went to take a corner late in the game a banana was thrown onto the pitch at El Madrigal. The Barca right-back reacted by reaching down and picking up the fruit, peeling it and eating it before restarting the game.

The incident was captured live on TV coverage, leading to another debate about racism in Spanish football both inside and outside the country, with both Brazil international Alves and his colleague for club and country Neymar taking to social media to communicate their thoughts on the incident directly with fans.

Referee David Fernandez Borbalan included it in his official match report. Villarreal have issued a life ban to the supporter who threw the banana.

The Catalan club reacted on Monday morning, issuing an official statement which backed Alves and pointed to UEFA’s "respect" anti-racism campaign.

“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,” the statement said.

“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.”

Villarreal released a statement on Tuesday confirming the ban, which read: "Villarreal CF wants to communicate that the club deeply regrets and condemns the incident that happened yesterday during the match against FC Barcelona in which a fan threw an object onto the field of El Madrigal.

"Thanks to the security forces and the invaluable assistance of the Yellow crowd, the club has already identified the person and has decided to withdraw his season tickets, permanently banning his access to El Madrigal stadium.

"Once again our club would like to express its firm commitment to promoting respect, equality, sportsmanship and fair play both on and off the field and our absolute rejection of any act that is contrary to these principles, such as violence, discrimination, racism and xenophobia."

While much of the postmatch coverage had focused on Barca’s first game since the death of former coach Tito Vilanova, Alves himself was asked in the mixed zone about why he decided to eat the banana which had been thrown onto the pitch.

“If you do not take it like this can you can suffer,”  Alves told AS. “I have been 11 years in Spain, and 11 years suffering the same thing. In the end I took it as a joke. We are not going to change this, unhappily, but I think if you do not give importance to it, then they will not achieve their objective. So you must take it like that.”

Alves also posted a video of the incident to his personal Instagram account while Neymar uploaded three separate images highlighting what had happened, including a photo of himself and his young son, both smiling while holding their own bananas, with the hashtag #weareallmonkeys.

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