On Sunday, Levante beat Atlético Madrid 2-0. The result put a slight dent in Atleti’s title hopes, as the side, who are currently top with 88 points, are now just three points clear of Barcelona. They have a six-point lead over Real Madrid, but their city rivals have two games in hand.
As you might imagine, tensions were running a bit high when, after the final whistle, Pape Diop ran over to the visiting fans and began to dance in front of them. It appeared he was taunting the Atleti supporters after their side had lost. Plenty were outraged at what looked to be a classless display from the midfielder.
Now it seems that Diop’s dance was in response to racist abuse he’d received from some of the fans. According to the player, he’d been the target of monkey gestures. He performed the dance, he says, to downplay their actions:
Diop: "Me hicieron el gesto del mono, por eso bailÃ©, para quitarle importancia. Me pasa en muchos campos y hay que acabar con eso".— La casa del fÃºtbol (@casadelfutbol) May 4, 2014
Just last week, Dani Alves provided the world with a unique response to racism. After a Villarreal fan threw a banana at the Barcelona player, the defender picked it up and ate it. Alves said, “We have suffered this in Spain for some time. You have to take it with a dose of humor.”
Of course, players are free to respond to racists incidents with humor, dancing or other light-hearted approaches. But many fans, both in Spain and throughout the world, are asking when something will be done to rid the soccer of the racism that continues to plague the sport.