FA Accept Anelka ‘Quenelle’ Ban Length

England’s governing Football Association said on Thursday they would not
be appealing against a five-match ban imposed on Nicolas Anelka for his
controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture.

Former France striker Anelka, 34, was given a five-game suspension, as
well as an £80,000 fine, last month after making the gesture during
West Bromwich Albion’s 3-3 draw at West Ham United in the Premier League
in December.

The independent disciplinary commission body that imposed the ban
revealed the reasons for its decision in a 35-page report released last
Thursday in which it stated that the ‘quenelle’ is “strongly associated
with anti-Semitism”.

However, the commission said that it was not satisfied that Anelka
intended to “express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the

Its report also revealed that the FA had unsuccessfully pushed for a stronger sanction than the mandatory minimum five-game ban.

But the FA said Thursday it did not consider “there is a real prospect
of successfully appealing to extend the sanction imposed”.

Its statement said: “Having carefully considered the written reasons of
the independent regulatory commission together with our appointed QC
(senior advocate), the FA confirm they will not be appealing the
sanction imposed on Nicolas Anelka.

“The grounds of appeal available to the FA are limited to legal
challenges or to circumstances in which the sanction imposed is ‘so
unduly lenient as to be unreasonable’.

“As the written reasons make clear, the FA pressed the commission at the
original hearing to impose a suspension of greater than five matches.

“The FA does not consider there is a real prospect of successfully appealing to extend the sanction imposed.”

The three-person commission that considered Anelka’s case revealed that
it had studied performances and interviews given by French comedian
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who was responsible for inventing the
‘quenelle’ salute – one arm straightened and pointed downwards, the
other held across the chest.

The comedian, known simply as Dieudonne, has been prosecuted for
anti-Semitism in France and the commission found that “Dieudonne is
strongly associated with anti-Semitism and, as a result, we found that
the quenelle is strongly associated with anti-Semitism”.

However, the commission added that “the question of whether objectively
the quenelle contained a reference to anti-Semitism is different from
the question of whether Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite and different
from the question of whether he intended to express or promote
anti-Semitism by his gesture”.

Both Anelka and the FA had seven days in which to appeal.

Anelka has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Arsenal,
Chelsea and Real Madrid, but has a reputation as a troublemaker, having
notably been sent home from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and
subsequently banned for 18 matches after clashing with France coach
Raymond Domenech.


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