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
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor