Skip to main content

Bananas and monkey chants: Is racism endemic in Spanish football?

By Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
HIDE CAPTION
Barnes criticism
Defiant Diop dances
Alves bites back
#weareallmonkeys
Backing for Boateng
Strict sanctions
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Levante's Papakouli Diop alleges racist abuse during Sunday's match against Atletico Madrid
  • The Senegalese says he was subjected to monkey chants from Atletico fans
  • Last week Barcelona's Dani Alves ate a banana thrown at him by a fan
  • A leading anti-racism campaigner says racism is "endemic" within Spanish football

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- World and European champions on the football pitch, but blighted by "endemic" racism in the stands.

For the second week in a row, Spain is facing up to allegations of racist abusive chanting from supporters inside its football stadiums.

Last week it was Dani Alves who took a bite out of a banana hurled towards him by a fan during Barcelona's match at Villarreal, while Sunday Levante's Papakouli Diop opted to dance in front of his abusers during a match against Atletico Madrid, who will compete in this season's UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid later in May.

"I was going to take a corner and some of the Atletico fans started making monkey chants," the Senegalese told reporters after Levante sealed a 2-0 win over the La Liga leaders.

"I don't have anything against Atletico's fans," he added. "It was just a part of them who did that to me and I wanted to explain that so people can know what happened.

Dani Alves has been applauded for his response to being racially abused during a football match. The Barcelona player had a banana thrown at him during Sunday's game at Villarreal, so he picked it up and took a bite out of it before continuing to play. Dani Alves has been applauded for his response to being racially abused during a football match. The Barcelona player had a banana thrown at him during Sunday's game at Villarreal, so he picked it up and took a bite out of it before continuing to play.
Dani Alves bites back
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
>
>>
Dani Alves bites back Dani Alves bites back
Dani Alves responded by picking up a banana and eating it after finding himself the target of racial abuse during Barcelona's 3-2 win at Villarreal Sunday. Dani Alves responded by picking up a banana and eating it after finding himself the target of racial abuse during Barcelona's 3-2 win at Villarreal Sunday.
Get up, stand up
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Football\'s fight against racism Football's fight against racism
English football has spent decades battling the scourge of racism. England manager Roy Hodgson (right) apologized after referring to Andros Townsend (left) as "the monkey" while telling an old NASA joke during a halftime team talk last year. In defense of his manager, Townsend tweeted: "I don't know what all this fuss is about....No offense was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy." English football has spent decades battling the scourge of racism. England manager Roy Hodgson (right) apologized after referring to Andros Townsend (left) as "the monkey" while telling an old NASA joke during a halftime team talk last year. In defense of his manager, Townsend tweeted: "I don't know what all this fuss is about....No offense was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy."
Race relations
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Is England winning racism battle? Is England winning racism battle?

"This monkey chants towards black players have to stop. And that's all."

A leading anti-racism campaigner is hoping Spain will respond to the publicity generated by the Alves incident, which struck a chord on social media, with a number of high-profile footballers, including his Brazilian teammate Neymar, posting pictures of themselves eating bananas along with the hashtag #weareallmonkeys.

"I expect quite a few incidents to come to light after the Alves banana issue," chief executive of anti-discrimination body Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Piara Powar told CNN. "The problem really is endemic in Spain.

"We are pulling together some stakeholders in a roundtable at the end of the month in an attempt to get some action co-ordinated.

"It may be that after Alves there is finally some appetite to take the issue on."

Atletico declined to comment on the abuse directed at Diop but Spain's La Liga reacted Monday following the incident.

"The Professional League of Spanish Football (LFP) and, in particular, its Department of Integrity, is strongly against any discriminatory, violent, racist, xenophobic or intolerant act, especially in the environment of football and sports," read the statement.

"At this respect the LFP warns that it has been proposing before the Sports Anti-violence Commission sanctions for big or minor offenses according to the 2007 law against violence, xenophobia, racism and intolerance within sports regarding the last events that took place in some stadiums during the last days.

"In any case, the LFP will fight against this kind of behavior and announces that will impose compulsory training courses to the clubs associated to the LFP in order to prevent these events to happen again.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) made no comment to CNN, but it will investigate the incident on Wednesday, with the Ministry of Interior's Anti-violence National Commission examining the case on Thursday.

European football's governing body UEFA explained that, while it is committed to eradicating racism from football, it is the duty of national associations to handle cases that arise in domestic competitions.

"UEFA operates a zero tolerance policy towards racism and is against any kind of discrimination both on and off the pitch," read a statement from UEFA. "UEFA supports its member associations to combat racism in European football.

"We offer subsidies to the national associations to encourage them to set up anti-racism programs within their organizations, and we also ask them to take all necessary measures, including imposing disciplinary sanctions to eradicate these problems."

A series of high-profile incidents of racism led to world football's rulemakers FIFA introducing a number of sanctions.

The punishments for a first offense is a warning, fine or the club in question being forced to play games in empty stadiums.

A second offense, or one deemed "serious," could result in demotion, a deduction of points or expulsion from a tournament.

Read: Alves winning racism fight

Blog: Neymar -- Too cool for school?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT