Nicolas Anelka charged for ‘quenelle’ gesture as sponsors Zoopla walk away from West Brom

Striker faces five-match ban over use of controversial 'anti-semitic' gesture

Nicolas Anelka has been charged by the Football Association on Tuesday morning over his “quenelle” gesture that has attracted controversy for its anti-Semitic connotations and will face a long-term ban if found guilty.

The West Brom striker is facing a minimum five-match ban under new FA rules after the gesture, which some say is an inverted Nazi salute and has anti-Semitic connotations despite Anelka's explanation that he meant nothing that was racially aggravated by his goal celebration.

Anelka has been charged with making an improper gesture and that it was an aggravated breach, in that it included "a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

The FA said in a statement: "The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013.

"It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3[1].

"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3[2], in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

Anelka has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge.

The pressure was already on Anelka, who played 76 minutes of West Bromwich Albion’s 1-1 draw with Everton on Monday night, over the “quenelle” saga when the club’s sponsor Zoopla, a property market search engine, announced it would not be renewing its shirt deal in the summer over the episode.

Asked how the “quenelle”  row had affected Anelka and his decision to play him, the new Albion coach Pepe Mel said: “I’m sorry, I’m only the head coach.” He described the striker’s performance as “very good,  he’s a good personality.”

'Anti-Semitic' comic Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala's show banned hours after Nantes court said it could go ahead

Anelka has refused to apologise, claiming that the “quenelle” was a gesture in support of its creator, his friend the French comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, who has a record of anti-Semitic comments. However, the FA’s compliance department has spent the last 24 days since the incident in West Bromwich’s game against West Ham investigating the background to the “quenelle” and is convinced that Anelka should be charged under both parts of its rule E3.

The first part of the E3 rule refers to “insulting words or behaviour” and the second part, which carries a minimum five-game ban, covers offences with “reference to any one or more of a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability”.

Nicolas Anelka (R) alongside controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala (L) Nicolas Anelka (R) alongside controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala (L)

Anelka has been charged by the FA, which effectively acts as the prosecutor in these cases. He has three days to respond, either accepting the charges or stating his intention to fight them. In either case a three-man independent regulatory commission will be convened. If Anelka accepts the charge, the commission will decide the length of his ban.

The commission members are drawn from pools of individuals with experience in different areas, endorsed by the clubs at the start of the season, including former players and managers. The chairman is ordinarily a QC. Given the sensitivity of this incident, the FA will have poured resources into building its case and have consulted with Jewish groups to assess the response in the British Jewish community to the “quenelle”.

Anelka’s response on Twitter in the aftermath of the incident, that the controversy around the gesture was a media invention and that people should not try to read meaning into it, is likely to remain his case with the FA. Anelka has said that the gesture was for his friend Dieudonné, who faced a ban from the French government for his one-man show. It had emerged on 28 December, the day in question.

 

Given the precedent around E3, particularly in the case of Luis Suarez, the intention behind Anelka’s gesture is unlikely to affect any potential decision by the commission. Its job is not to decide the intent behind it but gauge the objective offensiveness of the “quenelle”. A ban seems inevitable for the French striker, who turns 35 in March.

Anelka is contracted to West Bromwich only until June. The club have not made any explicit defence of him, save a muddled justification by then caretaker manager, Keith Downing, in the immediate aftermath of the incident. There are suggestions that they would have preferred the player to apologise.

Who is Dieudonné? How the French comedian was thrust into the spotlight by Nicolas Anelka's 'quenelle' goal celebration

On Monday Zoopla, co-owned by the Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, issued a statement that it would not be renewing its £3m sponsorship deal. The statement read: “Zoopla has been reviewing its position over the past few weeks in light of the actions of striker, Nicolas Anelka, during the match against West Ham... and has decided to focus its attention on other marketing activities after this season.”

A short statement on Albion’s website on Monday night said: “West Bromwich Albion has been fully aware since the sponsorship agreement came into force in June 2012 that its partnership with Zoopla could expire this summer and therefore has been planning accordingly.”

Read More:
From Dieudonné to Nicolas Anelka: Hands signal new French race row
What is the 'quenelle'? A look at why Zoopla have decided to end their sponsorship with West Brom over the Nicolas Anelka gesture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
healthMeet the volunteer users helping to see if the banned drug can help cure depression and addiction
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
News
Foo Fighters lead man Dave Grohl talks about the band's forthcoming HBO documentary series
people
News
i100
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

Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

Caught in the web of legal imperialism

The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
Bruce Robinson: Creator of Withnail and I on his new book about Jack the Ripper

'Jack the Ripper has accrued a heroic aura. But I'm going after the bastard'

The deaths of London prostitutes are commonly pinned on a toff in a top hat. But Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, has a new theory about the killer's identity
Simon Stephens interview: The playwright on red-blooded rehearsals, disappointing his children - and why plays are like turtles

Simon Stephens interview

The playwright on red-blooded rehearsals, disappointing his children - and why plays are like turtles
Holidaying with a bike nut: Cycling obsessive Rob Penn convinces his wife to saddle up

Holidaying with a bike nut

Cycling obsessive Rob Penn convinces his wife to saddle up
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef pays homage to South-east Asia's palate-refreshing desserts

Bill Granger's fruity Asian desserts

Our chef's refreshing desserts are a perfect ending to a spicy, soy-rich meal
Fifa presidential election: What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison