Mask stunt to cost Aubameyang heavy fine

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s latest masked goal-celebration is reportedly set to cost him a fine of at least 50,000 euros ($53,317) after again falling offside with his club Borussia Dortmund.

Dortmund’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) wears a mask as he celebrates with his teammates Dortmund’s after scoring the 0-1 during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany, on April 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

The 27-year-old Gabon hot-shot hit his 24th Bundesliga goal this season in Saturday’s 1-1 away draw against Schalke and celebrated by pulling on an black-and-orange wrestling mask.

The latest stunt came after he also wore Spiderman and Batman masks to celebrate goals for Dortmund in August 2014 and February 2015 respectively.

But what first appeared to be harmless fun in Gelsenkirchen against Schalke soon emerged to have been part of a marketing strategy.

According to German daily Bild on Monday, his masked celebration will result in a five-figure fine, because the mask he donned against Schalke is the same one he wore while filming an advert for his private sponsor Nike.

The main problem is that rival sportswear brand Puma are shareholders in Borussia Dortmund.

Aubameyang is already in trouble with Dortmund’s bosses for having the distinctive Nike logo shaved into his head last month.

“It’s not on that we are forced in this way to push through the economic interests of Nike. Our partner is Puma,” Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told Bild.

“This act is unworthy of a large corporation. A serious (business) relationship is different to that.

“The relationship is currently significantly strained at the moment,” he added, referring to the club’s relations with Nike.

According to Bild, Aubameyang will meet with the club’s bosses after Tuesday’s home league game against Hamburg to be told any similar stunt will lead to a drastically increased fine.

Puma, who hold a five percent share in Dortmund, say they hope the club will react.

“We are wondering why our competitor is putting players in such a situation,” said a spokesman.

“We are convinced Dortmund will draw the right conclusions from the incident.”

Aubayemang, who has said he one day wants to play for Real Madrid, has a Dortmund contract until 2020, but he twice hinted at the start of the year that he is considering leaving at the end of the season.

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