West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka attended a comedy show that was ‘obviously and grotesquely anti-Semitic’, an FA report has revealed.
The former France international told an independent commission he did not know the ‘quenelle’ gesture was anti-Semitic despite attending the show in Paris last year and claiming to be a friend of its inventor.
The commission banned Anelka for five matches after finding him guilty of an aggravated breach of FA rules.
He was also fined £80,000 and immediately suspended by the Baggies, although the commission said the 34-year-old did not intend to promote anti-Semitism with his celebration at West Ham United.
The new report also revealed that the Football Association had wanted to give West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka a longer ban.
The commission claimed it had imposed the shortest possible suspension because Anelka’s offence was less serious than Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s racist abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. The report revealed the FA had asked for a longer ban.
Anelka claimed the gesture was intended as a ‘high five’ to Dieudonne, who popularised the quenelle, and claimed the comic’s jokes had been ‘lost in translation’. The FA commission, which was chaired by independent counsel Christopher Quinland QC, heard that Dieudonne, who Anelka described as a friend but revealed he had met just once, had been convicted in France on anti-Semitism charges on ‘seven or eight occasions’.
The commission saw footage of a 2008 show in which it said Dieudonne ‘encouraged support’ for a well-known French Holocaust denier and then took part in a sketch with a fellow performer, who was wearing a concentration-camp uniform.
The commission said: “We agree with the FA’s submission that it is not possible sensibly to interpret this part of the show as anything other than deeply anti-Semitic.”
The commission also watched a trailer for a 2011 Dieudonne film The Anti-Semite and concluded that it ‘belittles Auschwitz’ and ‘the purpose and effect is to express doubt as to the Holocaust’.
The report then refers to a show called Foxtrot, attended by Anelka in January 2013, in which Dieudonne refers to the transportation of Jews from Nazi Germany to concentration camps.
The commission said: “We agree that this sketch by Dieudonne is obviously and grotesquely anti-Semitic and the FA submitted that no reasonable person viewing this part of the sketch could regard the quenelle as other than intimately bound up with and an expression of Dieudonne’s anti-Semitism.”
In a statement submitted to the commission Anelka said: “The reason I made the quenelle gesture after scoring a goal during the match was simply as a ‘high five’ or ‘hello’ to the comedian Dieudonne.”