Why was Nicolas Anelka punished? The quenelle verdict explained

The reasoning behind the player's ban and fine has been revealed

The charge

a) "In or around the 40th minute of the match he made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to Rule E3(1); and b) It is further alleged that the misconduct was an 'Aggravated Breach' as defined by Rule E3(2) as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

The verdict

Both charges against Nicolas Anelka were found to be proved. But regarding the second charge, the independent commission "did not find that NA was or is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the 'quenelle'." The penalty was a five-game ban, an £80,000 fine, the full costs of the hearing and to undertake an education programme.

Intent

It was not necessary that his words or behaviour were intended to be abusive or insulting, only that they were so.

The quenelle

The commission considered the orgins of the quenelle, and took evidence from each side. The FA, through Professor Seán Hand, Professor of French Studies, University of Warwick, submitted that the French comedian Dieudonné, who invented the gesture, "regularly expresses views that are strongly anti-Semitic and that the use of the quenelle has become interwoven with those views and therefore with anti-Semitism". Professor Hand concluded that by the date of the match "the gesture cannot be reasonably untangled or dissociated from anti-Semite sentiment" and could not have been seen as "a harmless prank".

Professor Philippe Marlière, Professor of French and European Politics at University College London, for Anelka, said he did not accept the proposition that as of 28 December most people in France would associate the quenelle gesture with anti-Semitism.

Why was he guilty?

Anelka made the gesture deliberately, and knew the game would be broadcast in France. The commission accepted the view that as of 28 December the majority of people in France would clearly have associated the quenelle with Dieudonné. Given the nature of the controversy over his anti-Semitic views, they were satisfied "that the quenelle is and was at that time strongly associated with anti-Semitism".

They also said it was a factor that Prof Marlière said he would not perform the quenelle and would not regard it as acceptable for his students to do so, because he considered it offensive. The fact that other players had performed it did not "deprive it of the abusive, insulting and anti-Semitic meaning we found it has".

Prof Marlière had said in a BBC radio broadcast that the gesture "certainly has anti-Semitic overtones".

It was therefore "insulting and abusive and improper" for Anelka to make the gesture, which meant he breached Rule E3(1). That breach was aggravated because it contained reference to the "protected characteristics" defined as ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief. So both charges were proved.

Was Anelka anti-Semitic?

The summary says it was not necessary to consider that question. But on the evidence, the members of the commission were not satisfied (to the requisite standard) that he was an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism.

Punishment

The FA wanted a ban of longer than five matches because a)Anelka had denied the charge; b) he is a high-profile player; c) the FA is heavily involved in promoting inclusivity and combating any form of racism; d) he may have damaged the reputation of English football round the world.

Anelka's counsel said it was a much less serious case than that of Luis Suarez when he was banned for 10 matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra, and Anelka had a good disciplinary record.

The commission agreed there were mitigating factors, which meant the punishment was sufficient.

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

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn