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May 5, 2014

Alves uncomfortable with campaign

Barcelona full-back Dani Alves says he does not like the idea of making money from an anti-racism campaign, but is happy with the extra publicity drawn to the issue after he ate a banana thrown onto the pitch during a game at Villarreal.

Tomas: Barca should sack Martino

After Alves, 30, peeled and ate the fruit thrown at him from the stands at El Madrigal, his Barcelona and Brazil teammate Neymar immediately launched a "#weareallmonkeys" social media campaign, which saw high-profile stars including Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli quickly getting involved.

The campaign has been criticised for being planned in advance in consultation with professional marketers, especially as t-shirts bearing the Portuguese language "#somostodosmacacos" hashtag and a banana image were released for sale just as it was taking off.

Alves told Globo programme Altas Horas that he had been approached by businesses looking to profit from the publicity being generated but had turned down the offers.

"Some brands have come to me, but I do not want to make money from this, I do not want popularity," he said. "I do not want to make anything out of the fight against racism."

The former Sevilla player also suggested that he was not 100 percent comfortable with the language being used in the campaign.

"I did not really like the '#wearellmonkeys' idea," Alves said. "We are humans and we are all the same. I believe that is what we have to defend."

The extra publicity which has been generated, with support even coming from Brazil president Dilma Rousseff and UN secretary general Ban-Ki Moon, may persuade Spain's sporting and legal authorities to take a harder line on the issue this time.

Villarreal quickly moved to identify the individual who threw the banana at El Madrigal on April 27, withdrew his club membership, and banned him for life from attending games. Local police then charged the 26-year-old, who had been employed by Villarreal as a youth coach, with breaking rarely enforced hate-speech laws.

Alves said he had not planned in advance to eat the banana, but overall he was happy that the campaign had generated such publicity given his previous complaints about racism had often been ignored.

"[Eating the banana] was something instinctive, not planned," he said. "Nobody thinks this kind of thing is going to happen on a football pitch. The repercussions it had was a surprise. I was a bit unhappy about this situation, because I have denounced it on other occasions and nothing happened. I wanted to give a positive response to an unfortunate action."

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