Barcelona defender Dani Alves combatted hate with humor and transformed an apparent act of racism into an anti-racism campaign that rallied some of the world's biggest soccer stars.
The left back was preparing to take a corner kick in the second half of Barcelona's match against Villarreal on Sunday when a spectator threw a banana at him. Rather than ignoring the heinous act, one that was visible to fans at El Madrigal as well as those watching the game around the world on television, Alves picked up the banana. The 30-year-old Brazilian proceeded to peel the banana and take a bite. Alves then tossed the banana and got back to work. Alves had already been involved in one Villarreal own goal and he would later be involved in another.
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said after the game, via Sky News. "You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren't gong to change things easily. If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
By taking back that moment from an instigator, Alves transformed the banana from a racist's provocation into a symbol of defiance. Not long after Barcelona's 3-2 win, Neymar posted an image of himself and his son with bananas. Alves' teammate at Barcelona and on the Brazilian national team, he included the hashtags #somostodosmacacos #weareallmonkeys #somostodosmonos #totssommonos.
Other soccer stars soon joined in the social media campaign, sharing pictures of themselves with bananas and anti-racism messages.
— Sergio Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) April 28, 2014