Credit: Palácio do Planalto from Brasilia, Brasil, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dani Alves

Professional Footballer,

*1983-05-06

The best response to a racist attack

Who is he and what does he do?

Dani Alves is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a right-back for the Brazil national team.

Widely considered one of the greatest full-backs of all time, Alves is the most decorated player in the history of football with 46 titles at senior level, and 47 official titles overall.

In his prime, he was praised for his pace, stamina, overlapping attacking runs, and technical skills. He played for FC Barcelona, Paris St. Germain, Juventus Turin, FC Sevilla and São Paulo.

His personal experience with discrimination and exclusion

Unfortunately, he’s also one of the players who suffer most acts of racism and discrimination and according to his own words, they have been yelling the word “monkey” to him since his spell at Sevilla: “Sadly, it usually happens on every ground, but throwing a banana at me, I didn’t see it coming.”

At the Espanyol v Barcelona derby in April 2010 he was persistently insulted. History repeated itself with a new racist aggression in 2012 at the very same stadium and against the same opponent. The following year, the Brazilian defender again endured verbal abuse on Real Madrid’s pitch during a Cup game.

How he got rid of it

Dani Alves had to be the opening character. Beyond being a trophy collector and the best right-back in the world for over a decade, the gesture of eating the banana at El Madrigal was original, intelligent and effective. Marvellous.

In March 2014, some ape-like sounds were heard at the Catalonian derby match when he was getting ready to cross the ball; Neymar Jr. was also “complimented” in the same way and alongside this, a banana peel was even thrown in and it was recorded by the television cameras. These are only some racist examples the Brazil international has experienced personally but, undoubtedly, the most stunning one happened on the 27th of April, 2014 when he ate the most famous banana in the world.

Pepe Reina, who has played as a goalkeeper for Barcelona, Villarreal, Liverpool, Napoli, Bayern Munich and AC Milan: “It’s nonsense and insane that some people still use gestures, actions or chants against gay people, black people, Jews, … in the 21st century. Alves’s way of acting is like that … I don’t think he gave any substance to it.”

His inspiration for you

Any token of this kind is wrong in every possible way; it doesn’t matter at all whether it is your own supporters or not. It doesn’t seem fair to me to close a whole stadium; the well-mannered should not be made to pay for the sins of the ill-mannered ones, it is the wrong-doers who have to pay for their misconduct.

His action had lots of media attention, as he reminds us:

I felt that, in general, people took up the cause. These things don’t upset me because I’ve been hearing it for so long that I think, I couldn’t care less, but I must admit it is a delicate subject because there are people who don’t take it the way I do.

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