Football: Monkeys and bananas campaign fruit of Neymar PR firm

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Dani Alves' inspired moment of improvisation in defusing a racist gesture by picking up a banana and calmly eating it is becoming a social media phenomenon.

The latest salvo in the burgeoning anti-racist campaign comes courtesy of his Brazil and Barcelona team-mate Neymar, whose PR firm is launching a "we are all monkeys" social media initiative.

Sao Paulo-based company Loducca were alerted by Neymar's father after his son also endured racist insults in an April 12 match in Granada, the firm's vice-president Guga Ketzer revealed.

"The idea was to do something light-hearted, even amusing. We waited for the best moment and that came with what happened with Daniel on Sunday," Ketzer said.

After Alves picked up the banana thrown by a fan at Villarreal - since banned for life by his club - social media sites burst into life as Neymar and even Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff joined in to decry racism.

Outraged at his teammate's treatment, Neymar posted on Twitter with the hashtag #somostodosmacacos, (we are all monkeys).

He then sent a photo showing him eating a banana holding his two-year-old son, who was clutching a banana-shaped soft toy.

With Neymar the 74th most popular contributor to Twitter his tweet was promptly sent round the twittersphere thousands of times within hours.

Neymar's response to "eat a banana" in response to racism was swiftly picked up by other contributors to social media websites in support of Alves.

Alves said his gesture was spontaneous but did say he was aware of Neymar's intention to act against racial insults.

"It had already happened to other team-mates and we had talked about it," the defender told Radio Globo. "We had already talked about a campaign that 'Ney' wanted to do on the issue as it (racism) had already happened to him.

"But my own reaction came spontaneously. Someone threw a banana, it fell in front of me and I picked it up and ate it without thinking of the consequences, simply to counter a negative action by a positive action."

Alves added: "If you are not offended then the offender hasn't achieved his goal."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.