Suspended West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka’s ‘quenelle’ goal celebration was a reference to anti-Semitism, according to the findings of an independent commission that banned him for five games.
But the commission did not find Anelka’s gesture as serious as Liverpool striker Luis Suarez's repeated racial abuse of Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
A 35-page report detailing the three-man panel’s judgment was published by the FA this afternoon.
The commission’s findings resulting in Anelka being suspended by the Baggies, banned for five games by the FA and fined £80,000.
While the commission said it was not satisfied that Anelka intended to "express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle", its written reasons said it could not ‘divorce’ the quenelle from anti-Semitism.
The commission said Anelka's quenelle "did contain a reference to anti-Semitism" in that it is strongly associated with his friend, the French comedian Dieudonne.
The report read: "We further concluded that Dieudonne is strongly associated with anti-Semitism and, as a result, we found that the quenelle is strongly associated with anti- Semitism.
"We agreed with the FA that it is not possible to divorce that association from the gesture.
"When Nicolas Anelka performed the quenelle on the 28 December 2013, it had that association; it was strongly associated with and contained a reference to anti-Semitism."
The commission compared the case with Luis Suarez's eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra.
It said that Suarez’s multiple uses of the word “negro” made his offence more serious than Anelka’s one-off gesture.
It also revealed that the FA pushed for a longer ban for Anelka.
Both Anelka and the FA now have seven days to decide whether to appeal.Subscribe to our Newsletter