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Spain gov't says Villarreal should face 'heavier' sanctions

MADRID -- The Spanish government on Thursday demanded Villarreal face a heavier punishment after a fan threw a banana at Barcelona star Dani Alves.

Spanish football authorities fined Villareal 12,000 euros (US$17,000) on Wednesday but the interior ministry's anti-violence commission said it will appeal that decision.

“The sanction taken by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) must be reviewed given the seriousness of the facts,” said a commission spokesman.

Earlier on Thursday, Villarreal were hit by a second fine of 6,000 euros and the supporter was banned for two years.

The anti-violence commission also decided to meet as soon as possible “to conduct an in-depth discussion having noted an increase in the seriousness of racist incidents at football grounds.”

International outrage erupted after the banana landed on the pitch near 30-year-old Alves during the league clash at Villareal's El Madrigal stadium on April 27.

Brazilian star Alves won praise for nonchalantly picking up the banana and taking a bite before setting up a goal to help Barcelona come from behind to seal a 3-2 victory.

“I have been in Spain 11 years and it has been the same for 11 years. You have to laugh at these backward people,” Alves said after the game.

The club had already received a warning from the disciplinary body in February over fans' behavior after a smoke bomb was thrown on the pitch causing the team's stadium to be evacuated.

A week after the Alves incident, Pape Diop, a 28-year-old Senegalese player for Liga side Levante, reacted by dancing when he was targeted by monkey chants during his side's 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

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