On Tuesday, the English Football Association (FA) charged French soccer star Nicolas Anelka with allegedly making the "quenelle" salute during a December 28 match between West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion.
The FA issued the following statement on their website:
It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3.
It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.
Anelka has until 6pm on 23 January 2014 to respond to the charge.
The referenced gesture, known as the "quenelle" salute, involves one straightened arm pointing downward while touching that arm’s shoulder with the opposite hand.
According to Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, the gesture is a lesser-known Nazi salute: "This salute was created by a well-known extreme anti-Semite who has displayed his hatred of Jews, mocked the Holocaust and Jewish suffering.”
Anelka has denied that the gesture was anti-Semitic. Instead, he said it was simply "anti-establishment" and a tribute to his friend, controversial French comedian and political activist Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.
Anelka responded to the FA charges on Twitter, posting a video and stating that he had nothing to add. In the video, Roger Cukierman, President of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France) and Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, says that the "quenelle" gesture is not anti-Semitic when used on a soccer field.
The controversy has already cost Anelka’s team, West Brom, one important sponsorship. On Monday, property market search engine Zoopla, announced that it will not renew its two-year deal with West Brom beyond the current season:
"Zoopla has been reviewing its position over the past few weeks in light of the actions of striker, Nicolas Anelka, during the match against West Ham over the Christmas period and has decided to focus its attention on other marketing activities after this season," the company said in a statement.
West Brom reacted to the statement - which means they’ll have to find another source of funding for their shirts - rather nonchalantly, saying they were aware that the sponsorship deal could end after this season and have been planning accordingly.
— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) July 15, 2013
Image via YouTube