The English FA has banned West Bromwich Albion’s French striker Nicolas Anelka for five games and fined him £80,000 (€97,500) over his use of an alleged anti-Semitic gesture during a goal celebration.
Anelka, who was also ordered to complete a compulsory education course, made the gesture, known as a “quenelle” after scoring in a 3-3 draw against West Ham United in a Premier League match on December 28th last year.
The quenelle, which involves pointing one straightened arm downward while touching the shoulder with the opposite hand, is interpreted by many as carrying anti-Semitic overtones and has been described as an “inverted Nazi salute”.
The FA found Anelka guilty of making a gesture that "was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper".
The disciplinary panel found it to be an "aggravated breach" of its rules in that it included "a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".
However, the disciplinary panel backed Anelka’s insistence that he was not promoting anti-Semitism by performing the gesture.
“We did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle,” the verdict said.
Anelka, who had previously used his Facebook and Twitter accounts to ask the FA to drop the charges and denied he was anti-Semitic or racist, has said he made the gesture as a tribute to his French comedian friend Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, who invented it.
Dieudonné, as he is widely known, is a controversial figure in France who has been convicted multiple times for inciting racial hatred or anti-Semitism.
The sanctions taken against Anelka by the FA will be suspended for seven days during which time the player has the right to appeal against the decision.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-02-27