Tottenham’s ‘Banana Skin’

The media has another 'rush to judgement' moment

On Sunday during Arsenal’s 4-2 victory over their north London rivals Tottenham a banana skin was thrown onto the pitch after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring for the hosts. Immediately everyone jumped to the obvious conclusion, that there was racist intent. But was there?

The Bad Old Days

I have to begin by saying I have no tolerance for racism in football or life in general. I grew up in the bad old days of football racism and started going to football in the early eighties when racist chanting was rife. 

I’ve stood in the Arthur Wait Enclosure while fellow Palace fans were making monkey noises and singing racist songs at black opposition players and felt appalled. It was all the more appalling because half of our team were also black.

Having half of the Palace team comprising of black players was something I was always proud of as a kid. It really is difficult to remember how different things were back then especially when you consider that the first black player to play for Everton’s first team was Daniel Amokachi in 1994!

Was There Racist Intent?

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that a banana skin thrown at a black player is meant as a racist gesture. But why?

I’ve seen the incident and to be completely honest I didn’t join the dots until the news reader did it for me by saying it was being treated as a racist incident. I thought the story was simply about something being thrown at Aubameyang not about what was thrown.

It transpired that other missiles were thrown throughout the game but while they may have been more capable of causing injury it is the banana skin that appears to have caused the most damage.

My problem with this is the immediate jump to conclusion and conviction in the media that the thrower of the banana skin is racist and had racist intent. Maybe he did and if so then he deserves everything that comes his way.

Racism should not be tolerated. End of story.

A Racist Symbol Or Just A Banana Skin?

That is a genuine question. Why does throwing a banana skin at a person of colour automatically equate to a racist gesture? Surely the person guilty of the offence has to be tried before he is convicted and labelled a racist?

I have always been told during the equality and anti-racism courses that I have attended that for something to be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. that there has to be intent on the part of the offender. You do not take offence it has to be given.

What if the guy happened to be eating the banana at the time Arsenal scored and just instinctively wanted something to throw? What if the person who threw the banana skin did not mean it as a racist gesture and instead was throwing it at the Arsenal players in general, hoping to hit one of them?

You, me and everyone else can’t tell someone that they had racist intentions unless we have proof of it. I’m sure it will all come out in the subsequent court case and if the guy had racist intentions I hope they can prove it to be so and they ban him for a very long time!

The Bigger Questions

For me the main question is, how did the banana get into the ground? I thought it was prohibited to take in objects that could be thrown like a banana or an apple. Do they sell such things at Arsenal?

Furthermore if throwing a banana skin at a player of colour is classed as racism are we then saying that it is a lesser crime to throw a banana skin at a white player? Wow betide anyone who is a bit shit at throwing or if the wind catches the banana skin and it veers off course because if it lands near a player of colour it will then be classed as a hate crime.

You might think I’m making light of the incident, I’m not. Fans should not throw anything onto the field of play – full stop! Fan should not express themselves in a racist manner – full stop!

However, it seems in our society today we rush to judgement. Why wait for a trial? I think the fact people are putting 2 and 2 together shows more about how their minds work when viewing a banana skin than the person who threw it.