Anelka facing calls for lengthy ban

Pressure groups have called for Nicolas Anelka to face significantly more than the minimum five-match ban after the striker was charged by the Football Association over alleged anti-Semitism.

West Bromwich Albion's French Nicolas Anelka

West Brom's French forward is considering his options after being charged with an aggravated offence by the FA over his controversial 'quenelle' goal celebration.

The quenelle has been described as an inverted Nazi salute, and was created by French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism. Anelka is a friend of Dieudonne's and the player has insisted his salute was a gesture of support and aimed at the French establishment.

Anelka has denied the salute was anti-Semitic, but Jewish groups say if the charge is proved then the 32-year-old's lack of contrition should lead to an even more severe sanction than the five-match ban introduced by the FA this season as a minimum punishment for aggravated offences relating to ethnic origin, race or religion.

Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told Press Association Sport: "I know under the rules that on a first-time offence there is a minimum five-game suspension but I think what he did was sufficiently serious to justify a longer suspension than five matches.

"He has not indicated one bit of remorse or regret or apologised for his actions.

"He has simply said he wouldn't do it again and that is not good enough."

Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust which advises the Jewish community on security and anti-Semitism, said the FA should throw the book at Anelka.

He said: "Anelka has introduced a very ugly phenomenon into British football. Anelka's action risks the 'quenelle' being taken up by actual anti-Semites and used against British Jews: as it has been in France and elsewhere. The FA should throw the book at him."

Anelka, who has until Thursday to respond to the charge, has agreed not to perform the salute again after the club accepted it had caused some offence, but there has been no apology from the player.

West Brom said Anelka would remain available for selection until the FA had concluded their disciplinary process.

The club's shirt sponsor Zoopla, an online property search engine which is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterton, said on Monday it would not be renewing its deal at the end of the season because of the incident.

West Brom said in a statement: "Anelka has received a 34-page document explaining the allegations against him and informing him that he has until 6pm on Thursday to respond. The player is now considering his options.

"Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until the FA's disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this, the club will conclude its own internal enquiry."

The FA brought in an academic expert to help decide on whether charges should be brought and has spent several weeks working on the case due to its sensitivity.

A three-man independent regulatory commission will now be appointed to deal with the case - either to decide on the sanction if Anelka admits the charge or to hold a disciplinary hearing if he denies it.

The incident happened after Anelka scored during the 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28.

An FA statement said: "It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3[1].

"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3[2], in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

Football's anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, which has expressed frustration over the length of time taken to decide on the case, called for a swift conclusion.

A statement said: "The FA has previously demonstrated its commitment to taking effective and swift action to deal with all forms of abusive conduct in football, and has spent a longer time than desirable in order to give careful consideration to the allegations made in this case.

"Kick It Out hopes that this matter can now be quickly concluded."

While pressure groups are calling for a lengthy suspension, Anelka has received support from Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgium international, who spent last season on loan from Chelsea at West Brom, played against Anelka in Monday's 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.

Speaking before details of the FA charge were announced Lukaku told evertontv: "He was my idol as a kid and he still is.

"I don't think he should be banned for that, he was just supporting a comedian in France. We don't have to make such a big deal about it.

"I hope he doesn't get suspended because he is a player people want to play on the pitch."



comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular News

News & Update