Nicolas Anelka banned and fined by FA for quenelle gesture
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Nicolas Anelka (Photo: PA)
West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka has been banned by the Football Association for five matches and fined £80,000 for performing an antisemitic quenelle gesture.
The FA said it did not believe the French footballer was antisemitic or had intended to promote antisemitism.
He has seven days to appeal against the ruling. Anelka was also ordered to complete a compulsory education course.
The FA's Independent Regulatory Commission found Anelka was guilty of an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 which refers to "a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper".
Christopher Quinlan QC, who chaired the independent commission, said Anelka's misconduct had also included "a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".
The commission heard evidence from two expert witness, Anelka, his lawyers and the FA's lawyers.
Written reasons for the FA's decision will be provided "in due course". Anelka's penalty is suspended until the outcome of any appeal. If he does appeal, a new commission would have to be formed to hear the evidence for a second time.
Anelka made the gesture, a Nazi-style salute, during a Premier League match on December 28. He claimed at the time that it was a tribute to his friend, the antisemitic French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala.
David Delew, chief executive of the Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism, said: "Nicolas Anelka has rightly been found guilty of introducing an ugly antisemitic gesture into British football.
"We acknowledge Anelka’s denial of antisemitic intent, but his action was clear and the FA’s zero tolerance approach to racism meant there could be no other outcome.
"This verdict sends a strong message to Jewish players and supporters at all levels of the game that the FA will act against antisemitic acts if they are reported."
Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman said: "We welcome the fact that the independent tribunal has decided that Mr Anelka was very clearly in breach of both regulations.
"This supports the FA’s decision to invoke its own regulations after its assiduous report concluded that Mr Anelka’s gesture had antisemitic connotations and is highly offensive to Jews and right minded members of the public."
Simon Johnson, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive, said the FA's processes had been proved to be "robust enough to deal with the most pernicious of racism cases. All those of us dedicated to defeating racism and discrimination throughout sport can take great confidence that, when put to the test, football’s anti-racism procedures stood up to the challenge".
Maccabi GB chief executive Martin Berliner said: "Football, and sport in general, should not be a platform for any political or discriminatory views and we hope that the ban and fine given by the FA is a deterrent to sportspeople, public figures or anyone else in future who plans to display their negative views in this way.
"For too long, the Jewish community has accepted antisemitism in the sports arena, both at grass roots level and in the professional game."
Liverpool player Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches in December 2011 for directing racial abuse at Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
Comedian Dieudonné was ordered by a French court two weeks ago to edit out two sections of a video he posted on his website and YouTube.
The case was brought by the Union of French Jewish Students.
Dieudonné was banned from Britain by Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this month.
The Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust had argued that any public performance by him in this country was “likely to incite hatred of Jews, based on his record in France".