Anti-racism group Kick It Out and Jewish communal organisations have urged the Football Association to appeal the five-match ban against Nicolas Anelka, calling the decision to give the player only the minimum penalty “illogical” “baffling” and “contradictory”.
Kick It Out Chairman Lord Ouseley in particular criticised the ruling as “inexplicable”, saying that the evidence heard at the independent tribunal was not “compatible with the outcome”.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Lord Ouseley said: “His gesture was [aimed] at a whole community, as opposed to an individual. He’s having a go at every Jewish person, knowingly or unknowingly.”
Kick It Out, the Community Security Trust and the Board of Deputies say the ban should be increased from five to 10 games in line with a recent decision by Europe’s football governing body, Uefa. The 10-match ban is the minimum sentence for racism or discrimination-based offences under Uefa regulations.
“Five games should not be the minimum sanction,” said Lord Ouseley. “It should be 10 games, because it should be consistent with what Uefa is doing. We’ve always prided ourselves that we’ve been ahead of the thinking on punishment. Now we find ourselves behind Uefa, rather than alongside them.”
The Board of Deputies agreed, saying: “Uefa got it right and the FA independent tribunal did not”.
The CST also urged the FA to “strengthen its own powers”, calling a 10-match ban the “new standard in tackling racist abuse”.
The controversy over the reasoning provided by the FA’s independent commission centres on its conclusion that Anelka was not himself antisemitic or intended to promote antisemitism. The commission, chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC, provided no explanation for how it had reached this judgement.
Lord Ouseley also criticised Anelka’s club, West Bromwich Albion, saying that it had hid behind the FA and not taken “full responsibility” for the player who had acted in a racist and antisemitic way.
Anelka was found in breach of two FA anti-discrmination rules after performing the quenelle gesture - a form of Nazi salute - during a Premier League match in December.
He had denied the charges.