West Brom Striker Anelka Available To Play While FA Probes Alleged Racist Salute
EPL West Brom said that French striker Nicolas Anelka will be available to play for the club "while the FA investigates his alleged anti-Semitic goal celebration during Saturday’s 3-3 Premier League draw at West Ham," according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. Anelka celebrated the first of his two goals with an apparent "quenelle" hand signal, made famous by French comedian Dieudonné, which is linked to anti-Semitism. Anelka's celebration sparked a controversy "which totally overshadowed his performance and his first two goals for West Brom in a thrilling match at Upton Park." Few English fans at the ground would have even noticed the gesture "but the match was televised live in France where viewers immediately understood its connotations, including France Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron" (REUTERS, 12/30). The PA reported a statement released by West Brom said that Anelka "has agreed not to perform his controversial quenelle goal celebration again." West Brom said that they "accept the celebration has caused some offence and that Anelka has been asked to refrain from doing it again" -- and that he has agreed to do so. A club statement said, "The club fully acknowledges that Nicolas' goal celebration has caused offence in some quarters and has asked Nicolas not to perform the gesture again. Nicolas immediately agreed to adhere to this request" (PA, 12/30).
OTHERS INVOLVED? The London TELEGRAPH reported photographs have emerged of Man City midfielder Samir Nasri and Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho "performing the same controversial" quenelle gesture used by Anelka during a goal celebration on Saturday. The gesture can be interpreted as anti-Semitic, but Anelka insisted that "it was merely a tribute to his friend," Dieudonné, that had been misinterpreted. Anelka said, "(The) meaning of quenelle: anti-system. I do not know what the word 'religion' has to do with this story! This is a dedication to Dieudonné. With regard to the ministers who give their own interpretations of my quenelle, they are the ones that create confusion and controversy without knowing what it really means, this gesture. I ask people not to be duped by the media. And of course, I am neither racist nor anti-Semitic and I fully assume (stand by) my gesture" (TELEGRAPH, 12/30).