Dani Alves: I couldn't imagine that a banana would be thrown onto the pitch
Dani Alves has been taken aback by the incredible response and support he has received for his unconventional reaction to racist abuse during a Primera Division match, but hopes he has helped further the fight against discrimination.
The Barcelona defender sparked a social media campaign against racism as scores of his fellow professionals showed their backing for his decision to eat a banana thrown at him by an opposition fan.
Neymar, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and women's star Marta were among those who posted pictures of themselves taking bites out of bananas in tribute to Alves' actions in his side's match at Villarreal on Sunday.
Many other players as well as members of the public have also praised Alves, and the Brazil international admitted: "All the support has surprised me. It was a super spontaneous reaction I made without thinking about the repercussions."
In response to a banana being thrown on to the pitch in front of him as he prepared to take a corner during the second half of Barca's dramatic 3-2 win at El Madrigal, Alves nonchalantly picked it up, peeled it and took a bite before continuing with the game.
The Brazil international explained to Radio Globo: "My reaction was to pick it up and take a bite. It wasn't pre-planned, because I couldn't imagine that a banana would be thrown onto the pitch.
"I think a negative attitude has to be met with a positive one. That makes more difference than trying to fight in a different way."
The 30-year-old, who has been the victim of racist abuse before during his 11 years in La Liga, added: "I'm glad to be able to contribute in some way to the betterment of the world. It's not only in football, this kind of thing should not exist anywhere.
"We're in the 21st century, the world has evolved and we must evolve with it.
"I'm glad to have created this effect and hope it serves in some way to put a stop to these types of attitudes."
Villarreal revealed on Monday evening that they had, with the help of fans, found out who the culprit was and had withdrawn their season ticket and banned them from the El Madrigal stadium for life.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter branded the abuse directed at Alves an ''outrage'' and promised zero tolerance towards discrimination at the World Cup, while Barcelona also condemned the incident while giving Alves their full backing.
Alves added: "Football is a place of fun. It's where you support your team and you can take your children, family and friends to share the moment. Vulgar actions should not exist. We have to respect each other."Liverpool stars lend support to Alves after racist abuse Villareal issue lifetime ban after Dani Alves banana-throwing incident