VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) — Barcelona defender Dani Alves responded to a racist taunt Sunday in a game at Villarreal by picking up a banana that landed at his feet, peeling and then eating it before proceeding to take a corner kick.
Alves said after the match that humor is the best way to combat racism in sports.
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said. "You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren't going to change things easily.
"If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
Alves has often been subjected to racist taunts and called fighting racism "a lost war" in January 2013, after segments of Real Madrid's fans abused him with monkey chants during a match.
During the match, Alves had already played a key part in sparking his team's 3-2 comeback when his off-target shot was turned into an own goal Gabriel Armando in the 65th.
And shortly after the banana incident, Alves launched a cross that Mateo Musacchio headed into his own goal in the 78th before Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's winner.
The win kept Barcelona four points behind league leader Atletico Madrid.
After the match, Alves said humor was the best way to combat racism. That sentiment has led fellow soccer players, officials and even political figures from around the globe to respond with solidarity by picturing themselves eating a banana.
Barcelona teammate Neymar posted a photo of himself on Instagram holding a peeled banana alongside his son, who was holding a doll that resembled a banana.
Fellow Brazil teammates Hulk and Fred also lent support via their social media accounts.
Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Brazil women's striker Marta both posed for photos while biting into bananas.
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said Sunday. "You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren't going to change things easily. If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who has been actively condemning racist acts in Brazilian football, also expressed her support to Alves, while Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Italy national team coach Cesare Prandelli also shared a banana in a photograph.
The match referee on Sunday included the 75th-minute incident in his match report, so Villarreal could face a fine. The club says it has banned the person who threw the banana from all future matches.