West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka was today charged by the Football Association over his ‘quenelle’ goal celebration.
The striker performed the controversial gesture – widely considered to be anti-Semitic – during the celebration when he scored against West Ham on December 28.
The 34-year-old was today charged by the FA and, if found guilty, faces a five-match ban.
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The gesture isn’t well known here but it caused a storm across the Channel as it is deemed anti-Semitic by critics in France.
The striker, who started in last night’s 1-1 draw with Everton, claimed his actions were in support of his friend, French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, and insisted the gesture was ‘anti-establishment’, but not intended to be offensive.
A statement from the FA today read: “The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on December 28.
“It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3 (1). It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3 (2), in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
The footballer has been given until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge.
West Bromwich Albion has noted The FA’s charge against Anelka. Anelka has received a 34-page document explaining the allegations against him. The player is now considering his options.
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 inquiry.
After Anelka was charged, Kick It Out released a statement saying: “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.”
The news came after Zoopla announced it would not extend its sponsorship deal with the club in the wake of the controversy.
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