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?
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen