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September 26, 2017

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Racism storm in soccer world drives Alves' father bananas

RIO DE JANEIRO--After a racist Spanish fan threw a banana at Barcelona full-back Dani Alves his farmworker father Monday said he would respond by ... planting bananas.

Politicians from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to players, including Alves' compatriot and teammate Neymar, scurried to their computers to condemn the incident on social media and praise Alves for his response — he simply picked up and ate the discarded fruit.

Domingos Alves, 64, meanwhile came up with a cool response of his own.

"I plant mangos, coconuts, melons, watermelons, passion fruit — and now I'm going to plant bananas," he told Globo's G1 news portal from his home in the northern state of Bahia.

But he added a note of caution, saying he feared one day a racist fan might go as far as trying to poison a player.

"It's dangerous as someone might put something inside (a banana) with a different intention ... a person like this could go as far as doing something different and even poison someone."

And he added he would be telling his son "not to eat any more bananas on the pitch."

Alves' mother Lucia Ribeiro added she was proud of her son's reaction, which she said was "a slap in the face for prejudice."

Alves himself joked on Twitter that "my father always told me to eat bananas to avoid getting cramp."

The player's smart response to the latest in a series of racist incidents at Spanish matches rallied fellow athletes, with dozens posting pictures of themselves on social media chomping bananas.

Rousseff and FIFA president Sepp Blatter added supportive messages of their own while condemning racism.

Joining the flood of Brazilian luminaries posting to social media websites was Selecao center forward Fred, who posted to his Facebook page a picture of him making an obscene, bent-arm gesture in response to racism — in Portuguese the gesture translates as "do a banana."

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