French striker Anelka risks sanctions over salute outrage
West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka will face a Football Association probe following his controversial goal celebration during Saturday’s 3-3 draw against West Ham.
The 34-year-old Frenchman was widely criticised after he celebrated his first goal at Upton Park by performing the ‘quenelle’ salute made famous by French comedian Dieudonne.
The gesture has been linked to anti-Semitism in France, although others claim it is only used to show solidarity with anti-establishment views.
The French minister for sport Valerie Fourneyron on Saturday night condemned the gesture, describing it as “shocking” and “disgusting” through her official Twitter account.
Former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal star Anelka tried to play down the incident.
“This gesture was a special dedication to my friend Dieudonne,” he said on Twitter.
But a Football Association spokesman confirmed to AFP that Anelka’s actions will be investigated to determine if he should be charged and punished.
Meanwhile, the European Jewish Congress has condemned Anelka and called for him to face the same punishment that would be handed down for a Nazi salute.
“It is sickening that such a well-known footballer would make such an abusive and hateful gesture in front of tens of thousands of spectators,” European Jewish Congress president Dr Moshe Kantor said.
“There should be no room for such intolerance and racism in sports and we expect that the English Premier League officials as well as the police will give Anelka the appropriate punishment.
“We know that English football officials have a very low tolerance for racism at football matches and we hope that all concerned will abhor and show zero-tolerance for this hateful Nazi salute.”
Despite the huge storm over his actions, Anelka remains adamant the gesture had no racial or anti-Semitic connotations and he asked people not to be “duped by the media”.
“I do not know what religion has to do with this story,” he wrote on Twitter.
“This gesture is a dedication to Dieudonne. With regard to the ministers who give their own interpretations of my quenelle, they are the ones that create confusion and controversy without knowing what the gesture really means.
“I ask people not to be duped by the media. And of course I am neither racist nor anti-Semitic.”
Earlier, this month FIFA handed Croatia’s Josip Simunic a 10-match international ban for leading fascist chanting following his team’s World Cup play-off victory over Iceland.
The defender was captured leading songs with associations to Croatia’s former pro-fascist regime.