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Blatter blasts racist incident
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has described the racism directed at Barcelona defender Dani Alves on Sunday a s an "outrage" and promised zero tolerance towards discrimination at the World Cup.
Alves on Monday received growing support from his fellow professionals on social media f ollowing his unconventional handling of the abuse he suffered during the Primera Division match at Villarreal.
In response to a banana being thrown onto the pitch in front of him as he prepared to take a corner, Alves nonchalantly picked it up, peeled it and took a bite before continuing with the game.
The 30-year-old has been the victim of racist abuse before during his time in La Liga and he said after the match: "You need to take these situations with a dose of humour. I've spent 11 years in Spain and it's been the same for 11 years. You need to take it almost as a joke."
The Brazil international's unusual reaction to what took place has hit the headlines and seen him receive increasing backing from the world of football, with Blatter admitting he is appalled by what happened.
The FIFA chief also re-iterated the world governing body's stance against racism and insisted that similar incidents will not be tolerated at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Blatter tweeted: "W hat @DaniAlvesD2 tolerated last night is an outrage. We must fight all forms of discrimination united. Will be zero tolerance at #WorldCup."
The likes of Sergio Aguero, Neymar and women's superstar Marta also took to Twitter and Instagram to show their backing for Alves' actions, which took place during the second half of Barca's dramatic 3-2 comeback win at El Madrigal.
Alves' Barca and Brazil team-mate Neymar led the way after posting a picture on Instagram of himself holding a banana on Sunday night while writing "We are all monkeys", and on Monday that image had been replicated by several other players.
Argentina and Manchester City striker Aguero followed suit with a picture of him and Brazil women's superstar Marta taking a bite from bananas, accompanied with the message: "With my colleague Marta from Brazil we say #NoToRacism. We are all equal."
Tottenham duo Nacer Chadli and Mousa Dembele were also pictured eating bananas with a message supporting the fight against racism, while Liverpool's Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva gave his compatriot similar backing.
Togo and Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor added on his Twitter account: "Massive respect to @danid2ois, there is no place for Racism in Football. #saynotoracism."
Former England captain Gary Lineker, meanwhile, described Alves' reaction as "utterly brilliant" on Twitter while adding "Treat the racist berk with complete disdain!".
The racist incident, which occurred in the 75th minute of the match when Barca were trailing 2-1 and in the middle of a comeback from 2-0 down, was also condemned by Barca in a statement released on Monday which saw the Catalan giants give Alves their full backing.
The statement read: "Barcelona wishes to express its complete support and solidarity with our first-team player Dani Alves, following the insults he was subject to from a section of the crowd at El Madrigal on Sunday during the game against Villarreal.
"Barcelona accepts that the perpetrators of these insults are in no way connected to Villarreal and we value very positively the support the club offered to our player. The club's immediate condemnation of the incidents is a step in the right direction to firstly isolate and then eradicate completely from the sporting arena this kind of behaviour.
"Barcelona reiterates its support for UEFA's message of Respect and No to Racism and urges all clubs to continue fighting against the blight on the game which any kind of aggression against a sportsperson on the basis of their race represents."
Villarreal announced on Monday afternoon that they had identified the culprit who threw the banana and had given them a lifetime stadium ban.
A statement on the club's website read: "Villarreal wants to communicate that the club deeply regrets and condemns the incident that happened yesterday during the match against Barcelona in which a fan threw an object onto the field of El Madrigal.
"Thanks to the security forces and the invaluable assistance of the Villarreal fans, the club have identified the culprit and decided to withdraw their season ticket and ban them from entering El Madrigal stadium for life.
"Once again our club would like to express its firm commitment to promoting respect, equality, sportsmanship and fair play both on and off the field and our absolute rejection of any act that is contrary to these principles, such as violence, discrimination, racism and xenophobia."