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Jan 31, 2013

Alves wants action over racist abuse

Barcelona defender Dani Alves says the racist abuse he suffered in Wednesday's night's Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu happens everywhere he plays in Spain, and has called on Spain's footballing authorities to get serious about the issue.

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Alves was whistled and jeered regularly throughout the 1-1 Copa semi-final first leg draw. Racist-sounding abuse was particularly loud at two moments - in the first half when he clashed with home players Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso, and in the second period when he was booked for a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo.

The chants were not mentioned by either team's coaches or players in their post-game press conferences, but Alves himself tweeted his disappointment after the game.

Speaking at press conference after training on Thursday morning, the Brazilian international said he had not been surprised at the chanting as he suffered such abuse regularly all over Spain.

"I did not think about leaving the pitch, but it bothers me," Alves said. "It does not just happen at [the Bernabeu]. I go through this constantly in all the grounds I go to. It is a shame, as fans can like you or not, and there can be heated moments within games, but the crowd should just support their own team."

Alves, who told reporters in Brazil in 2011 that racism was "uncontrollable" in Spanish stadiums, said the Spanish football authorities needed to drastically up their efforts to deal with the long-standing problem.

"Unfortunately the war against racism is lost, unless much more drastic action is taken," he said. "I have been here for ten years and since the first year this kind of thing has happened. There are worse grounds [than the Bernabeu]. It happens all over Spain. I lived through it at Sevilla. Until action is taken, nothing will be fixed."

In January 2012 then Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino - now at Southampton - criticised his own side's fans for directing monkey noises at Alves during a La Liga derby, however Los Pericos then president Ramón Condal refused to condemn his club's supporters.

Alves suggested that the only way to stop these incidents occurring was to seriously punish the clubs whose fans are involved.

"Punish the club and the team," he said. "But not with fines of €1,000 or €2,000. You must go much further."

English football authorities dealt with racism much better than those in Spain, said Alves.

"They should look at England," he said. "There the measures are tough, but you need to look at things in order to improve. Manners do not exist in Spanish ground."