Michael Calvin on the Nicolas Anelka 'quenelle' gesture: Vile – and for once the blazers are not to blame

Anelka's insistence that he made the quenelle gesture a second time puzzled the FA, who could find no record of it

Convention demands that the Football Association is derided as weak and incoherent in high-profile disciplinary cases. For once, it deserves sympathy and support for making a principled stand. The Nicolas Anelka judgment, by an independent commission, denies it the right to govern effectively.

Morally, the FA has a duty to appeal against the verdict, which allows Anelka to escape with a five-match ban, £80,000 fine and attendance on a "compulsory educational course" for making his "quenelle" gesture. It will probably decide to draw a line under an episode that proves football's disciplinary process requires complete revision.

The FA, to its credit, argued on four separate grounds that Anelka needed tougher punished for the quenelle. This was rejected by the commission, whose 35-page report highlights the legal weaknesses of football's much-vaunted crackdown on racist behaviour.

Modern sport is shaped by lawyers who relish the type of ambiguities which litter the Anelka case. The commission insisted that its remit did not include adjudicating on whether the West Bromwich Albion forward is an anti-Semite.

Yet, at the very least, he comes across as wilfully ignorant and reckless in his identification with Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, the inventor of the quenelle and a notorious anti-Semite. Even Professor Marlière, who spoke on his behalf, described him as "a very silly man indeed".

Anelka has known Dieudonné since "about 2000". He claimed he had no idea Dieudonné's act was anti-Semitic, despite the comedian's numerous prosecutions in France.

He claimed he failed to recognise a concentration camp uniform, emblazoned with a yellow star, in one sketch. It beggars belief that despite being educated in France, where Holocaust studies form a mandatory part of the curriculum, he also knew nothing of "Jewish stories".

The report gives a harrowing insight into the man with whom he wished to show solidarity. Rarely has such vile behaviour, and offensive views, been aired in a sporting context. The detail is shocking.

In 2003, on a French TV show entitled "You Can't Please Everyone", Dieudonné appeared dressed as an orthodox Jew and concluded with a Nazi salute and the word "Israheil". This is a man who jokes about gas chambers, and insists the initial purpose of the quenelle was to show how far up the human rectum a dolphin's fin could be inserted.

The salute, in which one arm is straightened and pointed downwards and the other extended across the chest, is, according to the commission, "lewd, abusive and insulting". Anelka said Dieudonné's humour was "lost in translation".

Anelka feels it is sufficient to promise he will never repeat the gesture. His insistence that he made the salute a second time during the match puzzled FA officials, who could find no record of it. He deserves to be stigmatised.

The commission's suggestion that the Luis Suarez case was "more serious" will generate suspicions that anti-Semitic abuse is regarded as less important than other forms of racial abuse.

It is an unedifying mess but not, for a change, one of the FA's making.

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?