A popular European soccer player has been officially charged with a breach of Football Association rules, after making a neo-Nazi salute on the field.
Nicolas Anelka made headlines earlier this month for giving the “quenelle” gesture during a game, a salute considered the modern day Heil Hitler. Its origins can be traced to French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, a noted anti-Semite.
Now, three weeks later, Anelka has been formally charged, receiving a 34-page dossier from the FA explaining the offense, which included “making an abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper gesture.”
The charge comes with a five-game ban, and Anelka has until tomorrow to respond.
“Under FA rules Anelka remains available for first-team selection until the FA’s disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this the club will conclude its own internal enquiry,” said West Bromwich Albion, Anelka’s football club, in a statement.
Likewise, search engine Zoopla, an Anelka sponsor, announced Monday it will not be renewing its 3 million pound contract with the player.
“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, which is co-owned by Jewish entrepreneur Alex Chesterman, said in a statement.
News of Anelka’s suspension was greeted with applause from Jewish groups, with European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor saying, “We are happy that the FA has correctly concluded that Anelka’s quenelle salute falls under the guidelines of what constitutes a racist and offensive gesture.”
“We hope that the FA will give Anelka the strongest punishment possible and in line with similar punishments for other football players who made racist and offensive gestures or comments.”
“The FA must send a very strong message that offenses made against the Jewish community should be treated in the same away as offenses against any other minority.”