Article

Anelka charged over ´quenelle´ gesture

21 January 2014 10:03

Nicolas Anelka has been charged by the Football Association over his controversial 'quenelle' goal celebration.

The 34-year-old was embroiled in controversy after making the salute, which is said to carry anti-Semitic connotations in his native France, after scoring in West Brom's 3-3 draw at West Ham last month.

He defended the gesture by saying it was merely a dedication to his friend and comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, but the incident drew widespread criticism.

M'bala M'bala, a controversial figure in France, saw live performances on his national tour cancelled by French courts recently – a move welcomed by the country's government.

The FA have also taken a dim view of the incident, charging the former Chelsea striker, who now faces a minimum five-match ban.

If his charge is upheld, Anelka will become the first player to be banned under new laws imposed by the FA in May last year to tackle "aggravated breaches" of FA Rule E3(2) regarding actions which reference "ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".

The FA introduced the measures to tackle racism in football, after coming under pressure in the wake of high-profile incidents including Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea captain John Terry.

Suarez was given an eight-game ban after being found guilty of abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, while Chelsea captain Terry was suspended for four matches last season following an on-field altercation with Anton Ferdinand the previous campaign.

Anti-racism group Kick It Out had previously criticised the time taken by the FA to charge Anelka, and they reaffirmed their stance after the announcement.

A statement from the group read: "The FA has previously demonstrated its commitment to taking effective and swift action to deal with all forms of abusive conduct in football, and has spent a longer time than desirable in order to give careful consideration to the allegations made in this case."

West Brom's main shirt sponsor, Zoopla, confirmed on Monday that they would not extend their deal with the club for next season in light of the furore.

Anelka has until January 23 to respond to the charge, with a West Brom statement confirming the Frenchman is "considering his options".

They added: "Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until the FA's disciplinary process has reached its conclusion.

"Following this, the club will conclude its own internal enquiry."

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