x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dani Alves hints that criticism may drive him from Barcelona

Reports suggest banana thrower was dismissed from his job as support staff for a junior Villarreal team

Barcelona defender Dani Alves, pictured during a Primera Liga match against Getafe on May 3, 2014, says he may leave the club if fans continue not to appreciate his contributions to Barcelona. Alejandro Garcia / EPA
Barcelona defender Dani Alves, pictured during a Primera Liga match against Getafe on May 3, 2014, says he may leave the club if fans continue not to appreciate his contributions to Barcelona. Alejandro Garcia / EPA

BARCELONA // Barcelona’s Brazilian defender Dani Alves threatened to quit the club if fans fail to appreciate his performance on the field.

Barcelona’s results and style of play have been criticised by many fans and media pundits since Pep Guardiola’s spectacular four-year reign as coach ended in 2012, leading to rumours over the future of players, including Brazil international Alves and forward Cesc Fabregas.

“How can people forget that these players have been responsible for the greatest football? Well, I don’t feel like it. That’s why there are many doubts over my staying here,” Alves said in an interview with Catalan radio RAC1.

“If people put up with me as I am, fine. Otherwise I will go somewhere else,” said Alves, subject of exit rumours in recent seasons as his contract expires in 2015.

“Whether you like it or not, I am part of the history of this club, of the most beautiful history,” Alves said. “But I need energy, I need to be content and happy.”

Alves appeared to be unhappy with the criticism directed at Barcelona, who still have a chance of winning the league if they can beat Elche on Sunday and Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou a week later, on the final day of the season.

“We are human and things affect us and this kind of thing bothers us a lot. Just for what we have done in this club, people should appreciate the players much more than they do,” Alves said.

Meanwhile, Alves has called for the banana-thrower who sparked a global anti-racist uproar to be given his job back after he reportedly was fired following the incident.

The man was accused of throwing a banana on the pitch near Alves as he was about to take a corner during Barcelona’s 3-2 win at Villareal on April 27.

Alves, 30, won praise after he took a bite from the banana and got on with the game, drawing worldwide attention to racist incidents in Spanish football.

“My only concern is that the kid lost his job and I don’t want that. I don’t want to hurt anyone. He made a joke and it caused an uproar,” Alves said. “I ask that they give him his job back.”

Spanish police arrested the suspect, who could face up to three years in jail if convicted of inciting discrimination. Villareal banned the man from their facilities and stadium and cancelled his club membership.

Spanish newspapers said the suspect was a member of the support staff of a junior Villareal team, and lost his job through the sanction.

Villareal declined to comment as a means of protecting the suspect’s identity.

Spanish football authorities fined Villareal €12,000 (Dh62,400) on Wednesday, but the Spanish government’s anti-violence commission said it will appeal for a heavier punishment given the “seriousness” of the incident.

Alves said he did not want to give the impression that the whole of Spain is racist.

“It is not something that has just happened now. I don’t want to generalise, to say Spain is racist. I am saying there is racism in Spain. I have been here 11 years, and in those 11 years, it’s been the same. People call me a monkey,” he said.

A week after the banana-throwing incident, Levante’s Senegalese midfielder Pape Diop condemned Atletico Madrid fans for making monkey chants at him during his team’s 2-0 win over the La Liga leaders.

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