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Arsenal fan banned for aiming banana at Gareth Bale

Apr 12, 2013, 9:02 AM EDT

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An Arsenal fan has been banned from attending soccer matches for three years for throwing a banana at Gareth Bale during the north London derby.

A judge rebuked Thomas Flint for “disgraceful behavior” for aiming the fruit towards the Tottenham forward as he took a corner, the Associated Press reported.

The supporter also reportedly swore at Tottenham fans during the match at White Hart Lane on March 3, which was won 2-1 by Spurs and featured a goal by Bale ten minutes after the incident.

Flint was fined $385 plus costs at a magistrates’ court today and District Judge Rebecca Crane told the carpenter that he let his passion “boil over into hostility for a single player and the opposing team… It could have boiled over into violence.”

Bale’s long been subjected to not-so-funny “jokes” from rival fans suggesting that he looks like a monkey, hence the banana.

But that particular fruit has a long and ugly association with racism in English soccer, going back to the 1970s and ’80s, when black players were habitually taunted from the terraces. In one of the most notorious examples, former Liverpool and England winger John Barnes was photographed back-heeling a banana during a game against Everton in the late 1980s.

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