Nicolas Anelka charged by FA over quenelle gesture
West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka
The Football Association has charged the West Bromwich Albion footballer Nicolas Anelka over his quenelle gesture.
In a statement issued this morning, the FA said it was alleged that Anelka "made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3".
It was "further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".
The player has until 6pm on Thursday to respond. He faces a minimum five-game ban. It is understood that a shorter ban applies if a player shows "immediate contrition". Anelka and West Brom have yet to apologise for his actions.
Anelka made the gesture, a Nazi-style salute, during a Premier League on December 28. He claimed at the time that it was a tribute to his friend, the antisemitic French comedian Dieudonne M'bala.
The FA set up an investigation immediately after the incident, but has been criticised by some Jewish figures for taking more than three weeks to come to a decision.
Frustration has also been expressed over the secrecy surrounding the investigation, with the FA refusing to say what form it was taking, or who was conducting it.
Earlier this month, the FA disclosed that it had appointed "an expert" to look into the affair, but declined to say who the expert was.
West Brom released a statement following the FA's announcement saying the club will await the completion of the FA's disciplinary process before concluding its own internal inquiry.
The club said that Anelka would remain available for first-team selection.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has reported that the FA delayed announcing the charge so that Anelka could play in last night's Premier League match against Everton.
According to the paper, the FA agreed with West Brom to postpone the announcement as a "courtesy" to Pepe Mel, the club's new manager, who was overseeing his first game in charge.
Yesterday, West Brom's shirt sponsor, online property company Zoopla, severed its ties with the club over the Anelka affair.
A spokesman said the company would withdraw from the sponsorship deal at the end of the current season in May.
The company is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, who is said to be shocked by the club’s decision to continue picking the former French international.