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Jewish leaders angry at Nicolas Anelka verdict as striker faces sack from West Brom

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Jewish leaders today branded Nicolas Anelka's five-game ban from football as 'ludicrous' – as the striker faced the sack from West Bromwich Albion.

He has been suspended by the Baggies after being found guilty of making an anti-Semitic gesture in a goal celebration.

He has also been fined £80,000 but campaigners say the punishment is not tough enough. A Football Association commission ruled last night that Anelka was not anti-Semitic and did not mean to cause offence with his 'quenelle' gesture at West Ham on December 28.

The 34-year-old could have played his last game for the Baggies after being suspended by the club until the conclusion of any appeal process.

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But Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle said: "The FA clearly thinks that anti-Semitic abuse is a lesser form of racism than other abuse. It's ludicrous and it brings the FA into considerable disrepute. It's not even close to being punishment enough, it's the minimum possible under the FA's rule, and the ruling is wrong."

Anelka had denied he his gesture was intended to be anti-Semitic.

An Albion statement read: "The club has suspended Nicolas pending the conclusion of the FA's disciplinary process and the club's own internal investigation.

"The FA panel 'did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism'.

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"However, the club cannot ignore the offence that his actions have caused nor the potential damage to the club's reputation."

Anelka is waiting to receive the commission's full reasons for the decision before deciding whether to appeal.

John Mann MP said: "In using the quenelle, Anelka gave anti-Semites a new tool for expressing their hatred."

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