Saturday 25 October 2014

Dani Alves biting back against racism represents baby step of progress

Off The Ball - Donny Mahoney

Published 30/04/2014 | 02:30

Daniel Alves of Barcelona

On a Thursday in February, our man in Spain, Graham Hunter joined us for what we'd billed as a report on Real Madrid's Copa del Rey semi-final thrashing of neighbours Atletico.

But Graham was agitated about something that occurred after the final whistle. As he tapped at his keyboard to finish his story from the Bernabeu pressbox, he had to listen to monkey chants resound around the empty stadium as Real defender Marcelo did a warmdown. It was racism as vile as Graham says he ever witnessed in Spain.

Graham loves Spain, but you could sense how shocked he was.

Racism again reared its ugly head in Spanish football on Sunday, but there was a feeling of change, even two months on. Part of it had to do with how Dani Alves handled having a banana tossed at him from the stands. He picked it up, unpeeled it and ate it. Implicitly, he was saying 'is that all you've got?'

And while Graham was pleased to see the banana-eating campaign that spread around social media (that even featured Luis Suarez), what most impressed him was that Villarreal fans have taken it upon themselves to identify the supporter and ban him from games.

Race relations in Spain still have a long way to go, but out of something completely stupid comes a baby step of progress.

Irish Independent

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