Averof Panteli, the Tottenham fan who threw a banana skin at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the North London derby has been fined £500 after magistrates ruled it was a targeted racist incident.
Panteli, 57, claims he picked up the peel in anger from the floor and threw it after Aubameyang had opened the scoring.
He was caught on CCTV holding the banana skin and ejected from the Emirates Stadium, but told police afterwards he had not meant to racially abuse the player.
But Mervyn Mandell, sitting Highbury Corner magistrates court this morning, rejected Panteli’s claim that it was not a racist incident.
“It was a deliberate action and we find it was a targeted gesture to throw a banana skin after a goal was scored by a black player”, he said.
Averof Panteli appearing in court
Averof Panteli insisted he only threw the banana skin as it was the closest item to hand, having been dropped by a child sitting nearby.
“That happened to be a banana skin but it could have been a plastic cup or an apple core”, said his lawyer Leila Rasool.
“The player in question who scored the penalty has not made a statement to say he felt it was directed at him and it was racially abusive.
“We have not heard from him, and there is footage of him following the match celebrating with his teammates – there’s no victim here.”
His fine included a £100 uplift because of the racial element.
Panteli was also told to pay £85 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
Defending, Leila Rasool said Panteli is from a Greek-Cypriot background and has no previous convictions.
She said the skin was thrown “onto the pitch, not directed at a player” and the allegation of racism is “not substantiated.”
Ms Rasool added: “He’s a long-standing supporter of Tottenham and he has been going since age seven for 50 years at home and away.
“There have never been any incidents of disorder or violence.”
She said Panteli was a season ticket holder, and said he had picked up the banana skin and thrown it in the “spur of the moment”
Ms Rasool added: “He’s been subject to death threats.”