Neymar poses with a banana minutes after Alves took a bite out of one on the pitch neymarjr

On Sunday evening as Barcelona played Villarreal, the world was set alight by Barca's Brazilian defender Dani Alves tackling racism in his own, unconventional, way.

Social media was awash with support for the full back who took a stand against the racist abuse he received when he picked up, and took a bite out of, a banana that was hurled his way whilst he was taking a corner.

However, the way in which Alves admirably handled himself may not be as spontaneous as people first thought.

The incident was allegedly a clever marketing ploy of Alves, his Barcelona and Brazil team-mate, Neymar, and a marketing firm in Brazil.

Spanish newspaper, AS, claims that the plan was decided well in advance, and the next time Alves or Neymar were to have a banana thrown at them whilst playing, which is sadly a regular occurrence in Spain, they were to pick it up and take a bite out of it in order to create a viral marketing campaign against racism.

Neymar was originally the player that Loducca, the Brazilian marketing company, wanted to eat the banana as he has a bigger worldwide following, with Dani Alves the one who was to kick-off the social media campaign.

However, Neymar happened to be absent from the pitch through injury, so the roles were reversed.

Within minutes of the incident, Neymar had posted a picture on his social media accounts in which he was eating a banana accompanied by the hashtag '#weareallmonkeys', with thousands of fans and other high-profile sports stars following suit.

Partner in advertising agency Loducca, Guga Ketzer, who claims he worked on the project with Brazilian marketers Meio e Mensagen and the Brazil stars, told Spanish media outlet AS: "Actions speak louder than words".

"A gesture needs no translation and what we're seeing is that this has gone viral, globally. The idea was for Neymar to eat the banana, but in the end it was Alves, and that works just the same.

"The best way to beat prejudice is to take the sting out of the racist action so it isn't repeated.

"We created #somostodosmacacos [the Spanish translation of #weareallmonkeys], with the gesture of eating a banana, and it has been turned into a movement."

Despite the fact that it has been revealed as a marketing campaign, the sporting world is still firmly behind Alves and Neymar.