FA Charges West Brom Striker Nicolas Anelka Over Quenelle Gesture
EPL West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka "has been charged" by the FA over his alleged “quenelle” gesture, according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The FA said the allegation was Anelka “made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper,” and that the gesture "may have had a racial context." The player, who has said the gesture "was for a friend and not meant to cause offence," has until the end of Thursday to respond to the charge, which "could result in a lengthy ban from the game" (FT, 1/21). The BBC reported the "minimum suspension for the offence is five games," but the FA, who appointed an expert to help with its investigation, "can increase that if they see fit." In a statement, West Brom said, "The player is now considering his options. Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until the disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this, the club will conclude its own internal enquiry." Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out also issued a statement, "expressing frustration over the length of time it has taken the FA to act" (BBC, 1/21). The London GUARDIAN reported a three-man independent regulatory commission "will now be appointed to deal with the case – either to decide on the sanction if Anelka admits the charge or to hold a disciplinary hearing if he denies it." West Brom Official Supporters Club Secretary Alan Cleverley said, "If Nicolas Anelka is found guilty of a racial offence, then he deserves everything he gets. You can't go on doing that. It sounds as if he did it on purpose because he knew the match was being shown live in France. So if the book gets thrown at him, I've got no sympathy whatsoever for him" (GUARDIAN, 1/21).