West Bromwich Albion forward Nicolas Anelka has been banned for five matches and fined ￡80,000 (US$133,400) for making an alleged anti-Semitic gesture in a match in December last year, the Football Association (FA) said on Thursday.
The Frenchman, who made a “quenelle” salute after scoring in a 3-3 draw against West Ham United on Dec. 28, has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course.
“An Independent Regulatory Commission has found an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 against Nicolas Anelka proven and has issued a five-match suspension and a fine of ￡80,000, pending appeal,” the FA said in a statement.
The punishment will not be implemented until the outcome of any appeal or until the player informs the FA of his decision not to appeal.
However, West Brom suspended the player immediately until the conclusion of the governing body’s disciplinary process and will carry out their own internal investigation, the club said in a statement.
“The club cannot ignore the offense that his actions have caused, particularly to the Jewish community, nor the potential damage to the club’s reputation,” West Brom said.
The FA found Anelka guilty of making a gesture that “was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper.”
They also found it to be an “aggravated breach” in that it included “a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
The FA added in their statement that they “did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite, or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle.”
Anelka had denied he was anti-Semitic or racist and claimed the gesture, which has been described as an inverted Nazi salute, was a tribute to his French comedian friend Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who invented it.
West Brom said they were awaiting the written reasons for the panel’s decision, from which time Anelka has seven days to decide whether to appeal.