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FA wanted longer Anelka ban, reports tribunal

6 March 2014 18:21

The Football Association wanted Nicolas Anelka's five-match ban for his 'quenelle' gesture to be extended, it has been confirmed.

The West Brom striker performed the controversial salute after scoring in December's 3-3 draw at West Ham and was charged by the FA in January.

Anelka denied the charge and defended the gesture by saying that it was "anti-system" and a dedication to his friend and comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala as opposed to being anti-Semitic, but the FA took a dim view of the incident.

An independent tribunal subsequently handed the Frenchman a five-match ban and on Thursday published the reasons for its findings.

It revealed that the FA had been seeking a longer ban, based on the fact that Anelka denied the charge, is a prominent figure and his actions undermined the governing body's stance on discrimination of any kind.

"The FA submitted that the minimum of five matches applied where the breach was admitted and not contested," the report on the FA's official website read.

"Therefore, it submitted, if that was right, then a longer than five-match suspension should be imposed on this player as he did not admit the breach.

"It also contended that the following additional aggravating features were present (1) he is a high profile player (2) the FA is heavily involved in the promotion of inclusivity, equality and diversity, and in combating racism in football and society and his conduct undermines those programmes (3) the conduct had brought a negative focus on the image of English football around the world and may therefore have damaged its reputation."

The tribunal's response read as follows: "In relation to those points, he does have a high profile, in this country and beyond. As for the undermining of the promotion of inclusivity, equality and diversity, and in combating racism in football and society, he at least ought to have known that such conduct undermines those programmes.

"As for the submission that five matches is the starting point for an admitted (as opposed to a breach denied but proved) breach of Rule E3(2), there is no support for that in the Rules.

"It would have been simple for the FA to state that in the Rules if that is what it intended."

Furthermore, the panel cited Luis Suarez's punishment of an eight-game ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October 2011 as a more grave offence, before going on to state that they did not feel Anelka was an anti-Semite.

"As for mitigating factors, Nicolas Anelka had a clean disciplinary record," the findings read.

"Second, the gesture was not made to any person in particular. Third, we did not make a finding that the player is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle."

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