It's been a very emotional few days for Barcelona as they had to travel to Villarreal and try to keep their title hopes alive just two days after the death of former manager Tito Vilanova. Given the circumstances, it was understandable that Barca fell behind 2-0 before the hour mark, but then they mounted a comeback and in the midst of that, Dani Alves showed that he was not in the mood to let any abusive fans get to him.
A Villarreal own goal in the 65th minute made it 2-1 and gave Barcelona something to build on. About 10 minutes later, Barca won a corner kick and Dani Alves went to take it. Villarreal fans threw things at him once he got near them — one of those items being a banana. When Alves spotted it laying on the pitch, he casually picked it up, peeled it, took a big bite, tossed the peel aside and took his corner kick. As cool as can be.
Two minutes later, Villarreal scored another own goal to make it 2-2 and Lionel Messi came through with a goal in the 83rd minute to give Barca a 3-2 that will undoubtedly be dedicated to Tito Vilanova.
Sadly, racist abuse — including bananas and monkey sounds — has become old hat to Dani Alves. In January of last year, he said, "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. [...] I have been here [in Spain] 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."
Following the Villarreal match, Alves expanded on his previous comments with an explanation of his personal approach to racism in the absence of institutional change. From the AP:
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said. "You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren't going to change things easily.
"If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
Hopefully one day soon the powers that be will provide the action Alves and so many others have called for. But until then, Dani Alves will eat your nutritious bananas and use that fuel to help him beat your team.
As if Alves' reaction in the moment wasn't brilliant enough, Neymar, his teammate at both Barcelona and the Brazilian national team, later posted a photo on Instagram of himself holding a banana while his young son, David Lucca, hugged a banana stuffed toy. Neymar's caption to the picture: "We are all monkeys."
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