Nicolas Anelka gesture: FA to look into West Brom striker after he is accused of anti-Semitic gesture during goal celebration

Veteran French striker scores twice on comeback but FA will look into allegations

Upton Park

Nicolas Anelka faces an investigation by the Football Association after he made a gesture when he scored for West Bromwich Albion that has been widely interpreted as being anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist.

The veteran French striker, who is no stranger to controversy, returned to the Albion team against West Ham United at Upton Park after eight weeks' absence.

After scoring the first of two goals in the 3-3 draw, he is alleged to have produced a "la quenelle" movement with his right hand against his left sleeve, which has been called a Nazi salute in reverse.

It is the trademark of his friend Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, a controversial comedian who has been fined a number of times for venting his extreme views. France's interior minister Manuel Valls said on Friday that he was looking into legal ways to ban the comedian. "Dieudonné has been repeatedly condemned for defamation, insult and incitement to racial hatred," said Valls. "He is a repeat offender and I intend to act with the greatest firmness – under the law."

Albion's caretaker manager, Keith Downing, who cannot have envisaged that the job would involve such issues when taking over from the sacked Steve Clarke a fortnight ago, was forced to defend Anelka after the striker had spoken to him in the dressing room.

"Nicolas says it was dedicated to a French comedian who he knows very, very well, a friend of his," he said. "It's all absolute rubbish really."

Club officials have also insisted no offence had been meant, and the player took to Twitter to defend his actions, saying: "This gesture was a special dedication to my friend Dieudonné."

West Ham fans immediately pointed out on social media that they had been investigated for anti-Semitic chanting at Tottenham last season.

The French minister for sport, Valérie Fourneyron, condemned the gesture through her official Twitter account. She wrote: "Anelka's gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting. There's no place for anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred on the football field."

Kick It Out, the anti-discrimination campaigning group, said they were looking into the gesture: "The campaign is in contact with partners in England and France regarding this matter and has offered its support to the Football Association in any forthcoming investigation."

Political football: When celebrations go wrong

Paul Gascoigne

Celtic v Rangers, January 1995

Paul Gascoigne was fined two weeks' wages for his "playing the flute" gesture when warming up before the second half of Rangers' clash at Parkhead. Television cameras screened him pretending to play the instrument – a Unionist symbol – in a manner which provoked Celtic supporters.

Robbie Fowler

Liverpool v Brann Bergen, March 1997

Robbie Fowler endeared himself to the Kop by lifting his shirt to reveal a vest supporting striking Liverpool dockers after scoring his side's second goal in the 3-0 Uefa Cup-Winners' Cup win. The striker was fined SwFr2,000 by Uefa because players are prohibited from displaying any political logos.

Paolo Di Canio

Lazio v Roma, January 2005

Paolo Di Canio once characterised his political stance as "a fascist, not a racist" so felt justified in repeatedly displaying the "Roman salute" to Lazio supporters. After making the gesture during the 3-1 derby win, Italian minister Maurizio Gasparri said: "Poor lad, like all Lazio fans, he is not used to winning."

Giorgos Katidis

AEK Athens v Veria, March 2013

The midfielder was banned for life from playing for the Greek national team for making a Nazi salute after scoring the winner in a 2-1 success. The Greek football federation called it "a severe provocation" that insulted "all the victims of Nazi bestiality". Katidis, 20, said: "I would not have done it if I had known what it meant."

Josip Simunic

Croatia v Iceland, November 2013

The veteran defender will miss the World Cup after being banned for 10 matches by Fifa for leading fascist chanting following his team's play-off victory over Iceland in Zagreb. Simunic was captured on video using a microphone to lead songs which were found to have associations with Croatia's former pro-Nazi regime.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power