Yesterday, Barcelona's Brazilian defender Dani Alves was the target of a banana thrown from the stands at Villareal. Rather than ignore it or protest to the officials, the two most common reactions from players to this depressingly common occurrence, Alves did something cheeky and brilliant. He peeled the banana and ate it.
The banana has long been the projectile of choice for racist soccer fans, targeted at black and South American players in attempts to compare them to monkeys. But Alves's quick-thinking snack instantly took the weight out of the slur. "I don't know who threw the banana," Alves said, "but I want to thank him. It gave me the energy to put two more crosses in for our goals."
Now other soccer stars are standing in solidarity, co-opting the banana as a symbol of potassium, not racism. Here's Neymar and son, a photo hashtagged "#somostodosmacacos," "we are all monkeys." Which we are! Just seven billion naked apes, not above a convenient and delicious banana.
Here's Man City's Sergio "Kun" Aguero and Brazilian soccer legend Marta:
Zenit's Hulk and family:
Tottenham's Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli:
Fans are getting in on the fun too. What started as a spur-of-the-moment joke from Alves has turned into something resembling a movement. It's not about to end racism in soccer, but perhaps it will take away some of the power from its most visible gesture.