RIO DE JANEIRO, April 28-- Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has lent her support to Dani Alves, saying the Barcelona defender was "brave and strong" for eating a banana thrown at him by a fan.
Rousseff said Sunday's incident reinforced the need to "champion the fight against racism in sport" during the World Cup, to be played in Brazil from June 12 to July 13.
"We are going to show that our strength in football, and in life, comes from our ethnic diversity and that we are proud of it," Rousseff wrote on her official Twitter account.
The banana was tossed at the feet of Alves during the second half of Barcelona's La Liga visit to Villarreal on Sunday, a match the Catalan club won 3-2 after trailing 2-0.
Alves coolly unpeeled the banana and ate it before tossing away the peel and taking a corner kick.
"You need to take these situations with a dose of humor," Alves told media after the match. "I've spent 11 years in Spain and it's been the same for 11 years. You need to take it almost as a joke and laugh at these retards."
The right-back's actions drew a wave of support from fellow players on Twitter.
Among those to express solidarity were Alves' Brazil teammates Neymar and Hulk, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter also joined the chorus of praise for the 30-year-old Brazilian.
"What @DaniAlvesD2 tolerated last night is an outrage. We must fight all forms of discrimination united. Will be zero tolerance at #WorldCup," the FIFA boss tweeted.