UK & World News
Nicolas Anelka Denies FA 'Quenelle' Charge
Nicolas Anelka has requested a personal hearing after denying a charge that his "quenelle" gesture was offensive.
The Football Association (FA) confirmed the West Bromwich Albion striker, 34, will argue his case at a forthcoming hearing. No date has yet been scheduled.
The Frenchman was accused of making the gesture, widely considered to be anti-Semitic, after scoring twice during his team's 3-3 draw against West Ham United on December 28.
He was charged on January 21 with making a gesture which was "abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper".
The FA further alleged it to be an aggravated breach, claiming it included a reference to ethnic origin, race, religion or belief.
A statement from the FA said: "Nicolas Anelka has today replied to a charge in relation to an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013.
"Anelka, the West Bromwich Albion player, has denied the charge and requested a personal hearing."
A statement from West Brom said the club would not comment until after the disciplinary process was concluded.
Anelka faces a minimum five-match ban if found guilty.
On Wednesday, he requested the FA drop the charge against him on his Facebook page.
He has insisted he performed the gesture in support of French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who invented it.
Dieudonne has claimed the quenelle is an anti-establishment gesture, but it has been widely interpreted as a disguised Nazi salute.
On Thursday, the French comedian said he was "proud" of Anelka in an exclusive interview with Sky News.
He said: "Nicolas Anelka has all my support, that's evident."
The comedian was banned from performing in his home country because his act is considered to be offensive.
Anger over Anelka's use of the gesture has already cost his club a lucrative sponsorship deal with property website Zoopla, which was founded by an American Jewish businessman.
Roger Cukierman, the president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions (CRIF) in France, said he was "disappointed" by the footballer's actions.
He said: "I was troubled by the fact the public man he is - a symbol for some of the youth of our country - can make this gesture 'to show his friendship to his friend Deudonne', whose motivations are without a doubt anti-Semitic."
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