The Spurs supporter in question has been informed by his club that he will be banned for life, but he claims to have merely acted in frustration
The Tottenham supporter caught on camera throwing a banana skin at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang insists he is “not racist whatsoever”.
Averof Panteli was caught on camera hurling a piece of fruit towards the Gunners star during Sunday’s north London derby at Emirates Stadium.
He was subsequently charged by police and informed by Spurs that he will be handed a lifetime ban.
Panteli has, however, rejected any suggestion that his actions, which came as Aubameyang celebrated an early penalty, were racially motivated,
He said in the Daily Mail: “I am not racist whatsoever. 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.”
Panteli added on his actions, which police forces have deemed not to be racially aggravated: “I regretted it after a few seconds. I thought, ‘s***, what did I do?’ It was not meant to be racist but it was completely wrong and I will take my punishment.
“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.”
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Panteli was removed from the ground after CCTV footage of the incident had been reviewed and taken to Wood Green police station, where he was charged with throwing an object onto the pitch.
“They were happy to say it was not racism,” he added.
“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.”