UK & World News

  • 27 February 2014, 21:49

Anelka Gets Five-Match Ban Over Quenelle

Nicolas Anelka has been banned for five matches and fined £80,000 by the Football Association for making the controversial quenelle gesture during a Premier League match.

After the ruling, the striker has also been suspended by West Bromwich Albion, with the club saying it "cannot ignore the offence that his actions have caused, particularly to the Jewish community, nor the potential damage to the Club's reputation".

The FA announced an independent commission found him guilty of causing offence with the goal celebration in December.

But the commission backed Anelka's insistence that he was not meaning to promote anti-Semitism by doing the quenelle.

"The misconduct was an 'aggravated breach' ... in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief," the commission said.

"We did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle."

The FA also ordered the 34-year-old Frenchman to undergo an "educational programme".

A statement from Anelka's lawyers said the footballer was "pleased" the commission found he was not an anti-Semite.

"He is now waiting to receive the commission's full reasons for their decision before considering whether or not to appeal," his legal team said.

He has seven days to appeal the punishment.

West Bromwich Albion said he would be suspended "pending the conclusion of the FA's disciplinary process and the club's own internal investigation".

The FA charged Anelka on January 21 with making a gesture which was "abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper".

The striker made the gesture, widely seen as anti-Semitic, after scoring twice during his team's 3-3 draw against West Ham United on December 28.

He denied the charge, insisting he did the quenelle in support of his friend French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who invented it.

Anelka wrote on Twitter in December: "I do not know what religion has to do with this story". He added that "of course I am neither racist nor anti-Semitic".

Dieudonne claimed the quenelle was an anti-establishment gesture, telling Sky News in an exclusive interview that he was "proud" of Anelka.

The comedian has been prosecuted for inciting racial hatred in France and banned from entering the UK.

Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, welcomed Anelka's punishment.

"This supports the FA's decision to invoke its own regulations after its assiduous report concluded that Mr Anelka's gesture had anti-Semitic connotations and is highly offensive to Jews and right-minded members of the public," he said.

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