Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang posts: 'Four more years and we start again' as Tottenham Hotspur fan who threw banana skin is banned
Van driver Averof Panteli, 57, was sentenced at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning where he received a four-year ban from football matches and £500 fine.
Shortly afterwards, Aubameyang took to social media and posted “four more years and we start again” on Instagram alongside a screen grab of the Evening Standard’s coverage of the hearing.
Panteli’s lawyer, Leila Rasool, had earlier said in court that the Gabon striker had “not made a statement to say he felt [the act] was directed at him and it was racially abusive”. She also claimed “there’s no victim here”.
After Arsenal’s 4-2 derby win on December 2, Premier League joint-top scorer Aubameyang had posted a picture of himself on social media with the caption #whysmandoingthis? accompanied by a banana emoji.
But Ms Rasool told the court: “It was a spur of the moment thing. He picked up the closest article to him and that happened to be a banana skin but it could have been a plastic cup or an apple core.
“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.”
Panteli, a father-of-three of Greek Cypriot heritage, admitted hurling the item on to the pitch at the Emirates Stadium after Aubameyang scored and celebrated in front of the travelling support but denied there was any racist intent.
After being caught on CCTV and detained by a steward he said “it wasn’t a racial thing it just happened”, the court heard.
However Magistrate Mervyn Mandell concluded: “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.”
Panteli, from Norwich, who has been a Spurs supporter since the age of seven, has already been given a lifetime ban by the club.