Nicolas Anelka banned for five games
West Brom’s French striker also fined nearly €100,000 for gesture made in December
West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has been suspended for five games and fined £80,000 (€97,500) following an investigation into his ‘quenelle’ gesture, the Football Association has announced. Photograph: Stephen Pond/PA Wire
Nicolas Anelka has been suspended for five matches and fined £80,000 (€97,500) for his quenelle gesture in West Bromwich Albion’s match against West Ham on December 28th.
He has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course by a Football Association hearing at the Grove Hotel in Watford that was looking into the events that occurred during Albion’s 3-3 draw at Upton Park.
The FA said its independent regulatory commission would provide written reasons for its decision in due course.
It said: “Mr Anelka has the right to appeal the decision. Mr Anelka must notify the FA of his intention to appeal within seven days of receipt of the written reasons.
“The penalty is suspended until after the outcome of any appeal, or the time for appealing expires, or Mr Anelka notifies the FA of his decision not to appeal.”
Anelka was charged by the FA on January 21st with making a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper.
It further alleged it to be an aggravated breach, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief. Anelka denied both charges.
The FA said: “The regulatory commission heard from the player, two expert witnesses and submissions from leading counsel for the FA and Nicolas Anelka.”
It said of the first charge: “The regulatory commission found this charge proved.”
The FA said of the second charge: “The regulatory commission found this charge proved,” but it added: “So far as the basis for our finding on Charge 2 is concerned, we did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-semitism by his use of the quenelle.”
It continued: “In consequence of the finding on Charge 2, the player will be subject to an education programme, the details of which will be provided to him by the FA.”
The FA had called in an independent expert to assess the symbolism of the quenelle before bringing the charge.
Anelka has said the gesture was anti-establishment rather than racist and made in solidarity with his friend, the French comedian Dieudonne M’bala.
Dieudonne has strongly denied the gesture has any antisemitic or racist connotations, and instead is effectively an “up yours” to the French establishment.
Dieudonne had told Sky News that: “In France it means simply a gesture against the system, and then after time it became a gesture of emancipation.
“Many Africans like me, descendants of slaves, it’s for self-liberation.”
Performing the quenelle by placing an upturned left hand across his right bicep, Dieudonne added: “That means liberation from a system, and it’s because of that Nicolas Anelka did it.
“It’s a gesture against submission to a system, a gesture belonging to the descendants of slaves who say ‘Stop. It’s done. I’m done’.
“There’s no hint of racism. Racism is a bad thing.
“Anelka is a descendant of slaves and if he wants to remark on his history then he has a right to do so.”