West Brom’s Nicolas Anelka refuses to apologise for his controversial quenelle gesture
French striker also denies any anti-Semitic intent behind the celebration
West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka faces a potential minimum five-match ban for his quenelle gesture, made during West Bromwich Albion’s 3-3 draw with West Ham on Saturday. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Nicolas Anelka has refused to apologise for his controversial quenelle gesture and denied any anti-Semitic intent behind the celebration.
The French striker faces a potential minimum five-match ban for the gesture, made during West Bromwich Albion’s 3-3 draw with West Ham on Saturday and which has subsequently been described as “disgusting” by France’s minister for sport, Valerie Fourneyron.
In a series of tweets, Anelka has defended his actions, saying the quenelle celebration was intended to be anti-establishment. He tweeted: “I do not know what the word religion has to do with this story. This quenelle is a dedication to my friend Dieudonne. With regard to the ministers who have given their own interpretations of my quenelle . . . they are the ones that create confusion and controversy without knowing what this gesture really means. I ask people not to be duped by the media . . . And of course, I am neither a racist nor an anti-Semite.”
The striker has been at the centre of a storm since he was spotted doing the quenelle, described by some as a “reverse Nazi salute”, while celebrating the first of his two goals for West Brom at Upton Park. The FA has confirmed it is investigating the matter alongside Kick It Out and it is possible that under anti-discriminatory rules introduced by the governing body in May, Anelka could be banned for five matches.
That sanction could be extended, however, depending on “aggravating” factors and there remains the possibility of Uefa getting involved and handing Anelka a lengthy ban itself under Article 14 of their own disciplinary regulations. Those state that “any person who insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons . . . on the grounds of skin colour, race, religion or ethnic origin, incurs a suspension lasting at least 10 matches.” That, however, would only kick in should Anelka join a club playing in Uefa competitions.
Anelka has confirmed that by placing his left arm across his chest while keeping his right arm pointed downwards, he was indeed recreating the quenelle, but insisted on Twitter that it was a “special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonne.”
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala is well known in France for maintaining anti-Semitic views and for having come up with the quenelle, which he first used in 2009 while standing in the European elections for an anti-Zionist party.