Nicolas Anelka gesture: Striker said to be 'gobsmacked' by the international row over his 'quenelle' celebration amid calls for him to be banned

Striker claims the celebration was neither 'racist nor anti-Semitic'

The West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka was slowly coming to terms on Sunday with the international row he provoked by his gesture in support of a controversial French comedian after scoring one of his two goals at West Ham. Anelka was said to be “gobsmacked” by the fallout, which included the European Jewish Congress calling for him to be banned for a gesture widely considered to be anti-Semitic.

Anelka sought to clarify his reasons for the celebration. “Of course, I am neither racist nor anti-Semitic and I fully assume my gesture,” Anelka wrote on Twitter. “The meaning of ‘quenelle’ is anti-system. I do not know what religion has to do with this.”

The Football Association, plunged into the deep waters of religion and politics, will not rush into a decision on whether he should be charged, which may not be known until next week. “It will not be fast-tracked, because we have to understand the full context,” a spokesman said. “We have rules about discriminatory language and offensive gestures and, if it was discriminatory, we’d have a position on that. But it’s not likely to be resolved within a few days.”

The FA regards the incident as much more complex than the middle-finger gesture for which Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere was banned for two matches after claiming Manchester City supporters had abused him about his children. The governing body has grown more sensitive to issues regarding race and religion, and only recently set up a new Inclusion Advisory Board, with independent FA board member Heather Rabbatts as chair, which meets for the first time next month. One of its aims is to “clarify anti-discrimination regulations and sanctions”.

Read more:

Sam Wallace: Nicolas Anelka’s goal celebration will force the FA into a careful and thorough examination of the politics of the ‘quenelle’ gesture

From Dieudonné to Nicolas Anelka: Hands signal new French race row  

Anelka is a good friend of the stand-up comedian known as Dieudonné, who has been convicted in the past of anti-Semitic remarks and has previously been pictured with the much travelled Albion player as well as Manchester City’s Samir Nasri, both players making the quenelle gesture. Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho, a Muslim like Nasri and Anelka, has been photographed making the same salute, but claimed he did not know the meaning of it and had been “tricked”.

It has been described as a combination of a reverse Nazi gesture and an obscene one. The European Jewish Congress president, Moshe Kantor, said: “This salute is merely a lesser known Nazi salute and we expect the same kind of punishment to be handed down by the authorities as if Anelka had made the infamous outstretched arm salute.”

Anelka said on Twitter that he was merely dedicating his first goal in the 3-3 draw at Upton Park – a match shown live on French television – to “my comedian friend, Dieudonné”. The incident was played down by Albion officials, including the caretaker manager Keith Downing, who like the FA found himself thrust into unfamiliar territory.

Downing, having recalled the French striker to the team after eight weeks’ absence, preferred to emphasise that he had found him “a good role model, [who] has conducted himself around the place properly”.

There was praise too from Saido Berahino, the young striker who scored Albion’s other goal and said of Anelka: “He is a quiet guy, a good guy, gets on with what he gets told to do and people look up to him because he leads by example, not just on the field but off the pitch he looks after himself. He is really humble. You’d never know he has been at all these great clubs. He keeps himself to himself and he is not one of those lads to show off, so everyone gets on with him because he is that type of guy.”

Suggested Topics
News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor