Nicolas Anelka free to play while FA investigates ‘quenelle’ gesture
West Brom’s French striker promises not to use hand signal viewed by many as ‘anti-semitic’
Nicolas Anelka of West Brom ‘celebrating’ his first goal against West Ham United at the weekend. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images
The former France striker celebrated the first of his two goals with an apparent ‘quenelle’, a gesture linked to anti-Semitism.
In a statement on the club’s website (www.wba.co.uk) West Brom also said he had promised not to repeat the gesture. After denying any anti-Semitic intent over the weekend, Anelka was asked to explain himself to West Brom’s Technical Director Richard Garlick when he arrived for training on Monday.
“The Club fully acknowledges that Nicolas’ goal celebration has caused offence in some quarters and has asked Nicolas not to perform the gesture again,” West Brom said. “Nicolas immediately agreed to adhere to this request. The Club is aware that The Football Association is investigating the matter and has offered its full co-operation.
“Nicolas is eligible for matches whilst The FA carries out its investigation. Therefore, Nicolas will remain under consideration for first-team selection whilst The FA and Club continue their enquiries.”
West Brom’s next match is on Wednesday when they play Newcastle United at home.
Anelka’s celebration sparked a controversy which totally overshadowed his performance and his first two goals for West Brom in a thrilling match at Upton Park. Few English fans at the ground would have even noticed the gesture but the match was televised live in France where viewers immediately understood its connotations, including France Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron.
She drew widespread attention to it by tweeting: “Anelka’s gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting. There’s no place for anti-Semitism on the football field.”
“This gesture was a special dedication to my friend Dieudonne,” Anelka said on Twitter, referring to a controversial French comedian facing a ban because of his use of the ‘quenelle’.
Anelka (34) scored 14 goals in 69 appearances for his country before retiring from international football in 2010. He earned the nickname ‘Le Sulk’ earlier in his career because of a history of disputes with managers. He took a week off on compassionate grounds earlier this season and considered retirement following the death of his agent.