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  1. ITV Report

Spurs fan fined after throwing banana on pitch at Arsenal player

A Tottenham fan has been fined after throwing a banana skin at a black Arsenal footballer in a "targeted gesture" which had a "racial element".

Banana skin thrown onto the pitch after Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (obscured) scored Credit: PA

Averof Panteli admitted hurling the banana onto the pitch at the Emirates Stadium after Arsenal's Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored against his side and celebrated in front of Spurs' travelling support earlier this month.

The van driver, 57, said he threw the skin in a "spur of the moment" action but strongly denied there was any racist intent, Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court heard on Tuesday.

But Magistrate Mervyn Mandell said: "We find it was a targeted gesture to throw a banana skin after a goal was scored by a black player. "We have in the circumstances found the racial element was there."

Panteli, of Borrowdale Drive, Norwich, was handed a four-year football banning order after pleading guilty to throwing a missile.

He was also fined £500, which includes a £100 uplift for the racial element, and told to pay £135 in costs.

After being identified on CCTV and detained by a steward Mr Panteli said: "It wasn't a racial thing it just happened", the court heard.

Leila Rasool, mitigating, said Panteli had been going to Tottenham games for 50 years without incident and he was of "exemplary character".

She told the court: "He has not been charged for any racially aggravated public order offence.

"He was arrested for that but no action has been taken in respect of that matter. Police directly told Mr Panteli they accepted his account and didn't think there was a racial element."

After the 4-2 derby win, Premier League joint-top scorer Aubameyang posted a picture of himself on social media with the caption: "whysmandoingthis?" accompanied by a banana emoji.

The incident triggered a fresh debate about racism in football, with former Arsenal striker turned pundit Ian Wright saying it had "embarrassed" the Premier League.