Two weeks after Nicolas Anelka’s quenelle salute and what have we learned? First, that Kick It Out, the organisation that claims to fight racism in football, refuses to utter a word of criticism of the footballer. Even after thinking about the incident for a fortnight. When racist abuse is directed at black players, Kick It Out — quite rightly — is speedy and vocal in its criticism. But when a player makes a deliberately antisemitic gesture — and we repeat that there is no room for argument on this point — then there is a deafening silence. Not a single word of criticism or condemnation. Not even the conditional version of “if Mr Anelka intended, then…” Just silence. We can only suggest that a name change is necessary: Kick It Out Unless The Target Is Jewish.
As for the FA: for a national public body, its behaviour is a disgrace. It is perfectly proper for it to conduct its own inquiry. But not only does it refuse to give any time-frame, it refuses to say who will conduct the inquiry or give any information at all about its remit and conduct. And, in a surreal twist, it refuses even to say why it refuses to release any information. The suggestion is that it may take months for the inquiry to go about its business. Meanwhile, Nicolas Anelka plays on. His club chairman brazenly insists that there is no reason why a man who has given a form of Nazi salute should not be picked. And his club manager, drawing on what must be a vast hinterland of the nuances of modern-day antisemitism, feels qualified to describe all criticism of his player as “absolute rubbish”. In other words, we have learned a lot. We now know that the FA thinks the most appropriate response to this incident is secrecy and delay. And Kick It Out has no interest in fighting antisemitism. So we know where we stand.