‘I’m not a racist’ – Tottenham fan breaks silence on banana incident

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Tottenham Hotspur unfortunately fell fowl to their North London rivals this weekend, losing the NLD 4-2 despite leading 2-1 at half time.

However, the headlines on Monday were not about a rip-roaring derby occasion, but an awful incident early on in the match.

Jan Vertonghen handled the ball in the area to gift Arsenal a penalty which Aubameyang dispatched happily.

The Gunners forward then celebrated in front of the travelling Spurs fans, something that didn’t go down too well.

However, no matter how provoking, the striker’s celebration did not invite what came next.

One Spurs fan decided to throw a banana skin at the player, an action that has had racist connotations in football for years.

The fan in question was banned for life by Tottenham, and condemned on social media by fans from all sides.

However, after breaking his silence on the matter, the fan is adamant that he is not racist.

The Express report Averof Panteli said: “I am actually a Greek Cypriot. I am 100 per cent not a racist. I swear on my kids’ lives that I am not that kind of guy.

“I apologise if I have offended anyone from both clubs, especially Tottenham. It was a mad thing I did and I never meant to offend anyone in any way. I never meant anything by it.

“I have been charged with throwing an object. I am not charged with anything racist. The police were happy to accept it was not racist. I have made a big mistake and I am sincerely sorry for it.

“The Arsenal player was gloating in front of the away fans. He came up towards the away fans and is basically nodding his head and clapping at us. The fans at the front were getting upset and shouting and swearing. Without thinking, I picked up this banana skin and threw it on the edge of the pitch. I didn’t throw it at the players. It was just on the edge of the pitch.

“I am deeply sorry. It is totally out of character. I didn’t think of the racist connotations. If I had thrown an apple or a pear, it would have been OK — but because it was a banana, it wasn’t.

“I phoned Tottenham to apologise and they said they would be getting in touch with me to ban me for life. They [The FA] were happy to say it was not racism.

“I have got black people in my family. I have got nephews in London with black partners and they have kids. I grew up in Tottenham, where 70 per cent of people are black. I have been friends with black people all my life. I do not have a criminal record and I have never been in trouble with the law in my life.”

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. The fella seems genuine to me. A lifetime ban is perhaps overreacting. Ban him for the season for throwing stuff on the pitch, then let him back next year.

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