London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – The Football Association has slapped a five-game ban on West Brom’s Nicolas Anelka for his controversial “quenelle” gesture against West Ham United two months ago.
After the former France international was charged last month under the Football Association’s new anti-discrimination rules, he was found guilty of an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 by an independent disciplinary commission.
The 34-year-old Anelka, who denied the charges, has also been fined 80,000 pounds and ordered to complete a compulsory education course. He has seven days to lodge an appeal.
Anelka performed the controversial celebration, which is alleged to carry anti-Semitic connotations, during his side’s 3-3 draw with West Ham on Dec. 28.
He was charged with making a gesture that was judged to be “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper.”
West Brom has suspended Anelka pending an internal investigation, and there remains a possibility that the Baggies could choose to sack the player. If that were to happen, Anelka may opt to retire from football.
“West Bromwich Albion notes that both charges were proven against Nicolas Anelka at an FA hearing in relation to a gesture he made during the 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28,” the team said on its official website.
“The club acknowledges that the FA panel ‘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’.
However, the club cannot ignore the offence that his actions have caused, particularly to the Jewish community, nor the potential damage to the club’s reputation.
Anelka, who requested a personal hearing, has repeatedly denied the salute was anti-Semitic and insisted it was merely a tribute to his friend, French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who invented the gesture.