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SBD Global/January 21, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Zoopla Ends West Brom Sponsorship Over Nicolas Anelka's Quenelle Gesture

Nicolas Anelka is shown in front of a Zoopla ad during Monday's match with Everton.
Property website Zoopla "has confirmed that it will end its sponsorship" with EPL West Brom at the end of the season, according to Sarah Ebner of the LONDON TIMES. Zoopla also made it clear that the decision not to renew the deal with West Brom "is down to the actions" of striker Nicolas Anelka, who "made an apparently anti-Semitic gesture" in a match on Dec. 28. Anelka claimed that his celebratory gesture -- known as the quenelle -- "was made in tribute to his friend," French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Although not known in the U.K., the quenelle "is recognised in France and across Europe as an inverted Nazi salute with anti-Semitic connotations." Zoopla Communications Head Lawrence Hall said, "Through our sponsorship of West Bromwich Albion we are pleased to have supported the local community and charities. In recent weeks, however, we have decided to re-evaluate this sponsorship and as a result we will focus our attention on other marketing activities from the end of the season" (LONDON TIMES, 1/20). Meanwhile, West Brom named Anelka in its starting lineup against Everton Monday night (SBD Global).

THE GESTURE: In London, Jack de Menezes reported Anelka "has promised not to repeat the gesture again," and he said he views the quenelle as "anti-system," rather than anything to do with religion. Zoopla "has sponsored the club for the past two seasons," having invested over £100,000 ($164,000) to the Albion Foundation and other local charities as part of their work. It was also reported over the weekend that Zoopla "had asked West Brom to field Anelka in an unbranded shirt" for Monday's match against Everton, although "that has not been confirmed by the club nor the property website" (INDEPENDENT, 1/20). BLOOMBERG's Peter-Joseph Hegarty reported former French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno has described the quenelle as a Nazi gesture that is "clearly anti-Semitic." The European Jewish Congress has "condemned Anelka’s behavior and called for him to be punished" (BLOOMBERG, 1/20).
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