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

By Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
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Barnes criticism
Defiant Diop dances
Alves bites back
#weareallmonkeys
Backing for Boateng
Strict sanctions
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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

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(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
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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.
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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
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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?

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