The premiership footballer Nicolas Anelka has identified himself as a fascist sympathiser. It really is as simple as that.
He says that he made the quenelle gesture as a tribute to its inventor, the French comedian and convicted antisemite, Dieudonné. Anelka counts this man as his friend. Let’s consider what this means. Dieudonné has called commemoration of the Shoah “memorial pornography”, chosen to share a stage with Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson,gone to Iran to express his support for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and dedicated a show to the former Iranian president.
Anelka’s club West Bromwich Albion has received an assurance that the player will not make the gesture again. The fact that he is a fascist sympathiser is clearly acceptable just as long as he doesn’t publicly express it.
The Premier League and the Football Association has a problem here. It should be a matter of deep shame that it is more acceptable to be openly fascist at the highest level of the British game than it is to be openly gay.
It was not deemed a problem that Sunderland appointed Paulo Di Canio as manager, despite him openly admitting he was a fascist. Now photos have emerged of two other French players, Samir Nasri of Manchester City and Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool, performing the quenelle.
Dieudonné and Anelka have both claimed the gesture is anti-establishment rather than racist. The concern is that the young people watching will see their posturing as in some way cool. Fascists have a long and dishonourable history of representing themselves as outsiders. For “establishment” read Jewish financiers, Zionist neo-cons and the politically correct Jew-loving media.
Football has worked hard to counter racism. Anelka has played here for long enough, on and off, to know how toxic this issue has been in this country.
The irony is that he, Nasri and Sakho are themselves the product of the best aspects of French multiculturalism.
For decades now, the top European football clubs have recognised that they can not afford to be racist if they want to sign the best players in the world. They now need to recognise that an anti-racism born out of pragmatism needs to extend to the sphere of morality.
This is not a question of free speech. Anelka and his countrymen are free to express their fascist sympathies, but they need to know there will be serious consequences if they do so while signed to a Premier League football team.