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May 2, 2014

Protestors defend Villarreal fan

Barcelona's Dani Alves has sparked an anti-racism campaign on social media with some famous footballers following his lead.

A campaign has been launched in support of the Villarreal supporter who threw a banana at Dani Alves last weekend, with one of his relatives saying he has been "lynched" by the media.

Hunter: Anti-racism momentum needed
Corrigan: Spain's head still in the sand

Barcelona and Brazil right-back Alves peeled and ate the banana thrown at him during a La Liga game at Villarreal on April 27. Neymar, his colleague for club and country, then immediately set in motion a pre-planned "banana-themed" social media anti-racism campaign, which received support from a number of high-profile players, including Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and Mario Balotelli. Leading global political figures such as Brazil president Dilma Rousseff and UN secretary general Ban-Ki Moon also offered support.

David Campayo, 26, was swiftly identified as the culprit and banned by Villarreal before being arrested by the local police and charged with provoking a racist incident.

However, the media reaction, which has included the widespread publication of Campayo's photo, has angered the youth's family and friends. A protest against this coverage was called for Vila-real's Plaza Mayor on Thursday evening, with the organisers using the slogan "We are all David" -- an apparent play on the "#weareallmonkeys" hashtag Neymar used when launching the social media campaign.

An unnamed family member told the EFE news agency: "One thing is the error he has made, which he will pay for; another is the lynching, which has been disproportionate."

Marca, meanwhile, quotes another anonymous supporter as saying: "Some journalists and media outlets have been very eager to do damage to our colleague, David.

"A protest has been organised against all the press and their negative actions -- they have done nothing more than dirty the name of our town and its inhabitants. He is no racist nor a violent person. He threw the fruit purely because he was angry in the moment. His action does not deserve this continuous lynching."

According to AS, about 1,000 people attended the protest, displaying placards that read: "Turn off the TV, open your mind" and "Stop journalism, stop misinformation." AS also reported that there were "moments of tension" between the protesters and reporters sent to cover the event.

The incident, and especially the reaction from Alves and Neymar, has brought extra focus on the issue of racism in Spanish sport. El Pais published a feature that examined the many incidents that have occurred over the last decade, accusing clubs and government authorities of failing to take action amid talk of "isolated incidents" and people getting carried away in the heat of the moment.

"The attitude of the [Spanish government's] Commission Against Violence and Racism is lazy and laissez-faire," campaigner Esteban Ibarra told El Pais. "All that happens here is that we cover up racism and violence."

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