West Bromwich Albion have suspended striker Nicolas Anelka after he was banned for five matches and fined £80,000 for his “quenelle” gesture.
He has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course, following a two-day Football Association hearing.
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“We did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite”
FA’s independent regulatory commission
Anelka, 34, denied his use of the sign during
on 28 December and described as an “inverted Nazi salute”, was anti-Semitic.
West Brom have suspended him until the outcome of any appeal and club inquiry.
His FA five-match ban and fine will be suspended if an appeal takes place.
The Frenchman and his legal team mounted a defence this week before the independent regulatory commission hearing, at the Grove Hotel in Watford.
He told a three-member panel, headed by a QC, that the gesture was a signal in support of his friend, the French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the person who first brought the quenelle to prominence.
The action, which Anelka made after scoring in the 3-3 draw at West Ham, was described afterwards by France’s sports minister Valerie Fourneyron days as “shocking and disgusting”.
What is a quenelle gesture?
- It is a hand gesture devised by French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala (above left with Anelka), who says it is an anti-establishment symbol
- However, many view it as an anti-Semitic gesture, reminiscent of the Nazi salute
- People have been photographed making the sign at synagogues and Holocaust sites
Anelka responded at the time by saying the salute was “anti-establishment”, rather than anti-Semitic. The French government is trying to ban M’bala M’bala’s shows over his use of the gesture.
The commission said in a
that the two charges Anelka faced – that the gesture was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, and that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief – were both proven.
The panel added it was their finding Anelka had not been deliberately anti-Semitic.
The commission statement said: “So far as the basis for our finding on Charge 2 is concerned, 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.”
It ruled that the player should be issued with the five-match punishment – the most lenient that could have been imposed under the FA’s new anti-discrimination rules.
Football’s anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said it would wait until Anelka has decided whether to appeal before commenting.
A statement read: “The campaign will continue to follow protocol by not issuing further comment until the case is brought to its conclusion.”
Anelka has seven days from the receipt of written reasons for his punishment to notify the FA if he wants to proceed with an appeal against the ruling.
He must also pay the costs of the hearing in full.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/26326484