The Villarreal fan who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves last weekend was arrested on Tuesday evening, according to reports in Spain.
Alves peeled and ate the banana before re-starting play, leading to an anti-racism campaign led by the Barcelona and Brazil player and his club and country colleague Neymar.
The campaign, which was reportedly pre-planned, immediately picked up huge momentum with high profile players such as Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli getting involved, while support has also come from Brazil president Dilma Roussef and even United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.
While previous such incidents at La Liga stadiums have generally gone unpunished, the authorities appear to have this time taken a much stronger approach and news agency Europa Press reported on Wednesday morning that a 26-year-old man had been taken into custody under article 510 of Spain’s penal code, which deals with crimes against fundamental rights and liberties.
Villarreal had already identified the individual, who Marca say is employed as a youth coach by the club, and withdrawn his club membership and banned him for life from attending games.
Alves, who has suffered similar abuse throughout his 11 years in La Liga, says the incident shows Spanish society had a serious problem with racism. However Villarreal president Fernando Roig has rejected that idea -- telling AS that you cannot judge a club or its fans by the actions of one individual.
“This is an isolated incident,” Roig said. “It is not fair to mark out the fans, or a country, as racist because of the acts of this guy. I believe that is unfair.”
The La Liga authorities are also reportedly posed to act more forcefully in this case, however Roig said it would not be fair for the team or other fans to be punished.
“You cannot judge a club or its fans by the actions of one person who furthermore has already been identified,” he said. “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.”