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May 16, 2014

La Liga to step up racism sanctions

Villareal have revealed the fan who threw a banana at Dani Alves has been banned for life, while fellow footballers have shown support for the Brazilian's cool response.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has proposed partial stadium closures for incidents of racism during games as he says more serious action is required to deal with the problem in Spanish football.

• Corrigan: Spain have head in the sand over racism
• Hunter: Alves incident must generate anti-racism momentum

The issue of racism in La Liga has again been to the fore recently after the incident during April's Villarreal-Barcelona meeting, when Blaugrana right-back Dani Alves picked up and ate a banana thrown at him from the crowd, leading to a global #weareallmonkeys social media campaign led by Alves' teammate Neymar.

While the banana thrower was identified, banned by Villarreal and charged with a crime by the local police, there was widespread surprise -- both inside and outside Spain -- when the authorities opted to fine the club just 12,000 euros for the incident.

This relatively mild punishment was even criticised as insufficient by Spain's sports minister Miguel Cardenal, and Tebas has now called for areas of grounds to be closed should similar abuse take place in the future -- as has happened after similar incidents in Serie A recently.

"We must change the Federation's disciplinary code," Tebas told Cuatro TV show Tiki Taka. "We must put in what UEFA recommends, that if racist incidents occur in the stands, then you close a part of the stand. They have done it the last weekend in Italy. This means fans themselves will not stand for racist behaviour, or other violent attitudes. Not just shouts, objects being thrown. It happens in many stadiums and ends up like this."

A week after the Villarreal incident, Atletico Madrid fans were also caught on camera during a game at Levante making "monkey" gestures at home midfielder Papakouli Diop, with no action yet being taken even though Senegal international Diop himself publicly drew attention to the abuse after the game.

Tebas said he was not happy that the perpetrators in this case had not been identified and punished, while suggesting that it was the police's job to discover who the guilty parties were.

"We must identify those who made the gestures, and punish them," he said. "This must be eradicated from football as soon as possible. The principal authority here is the government's anti-racism committee. But without doubt we in professional football must also take measures. In this case you could see them on TV, not just with security cameras. They were away fans, not like at Villarreal where the club helped identify [the individual]. The police are those who must identify them, we are not able to say if Juanito, or Pepito, has been in the stadium."

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