NICOLAS Anelka has caused an outcry in his home country by celebrating a goal for West Bromwich Albion on Saturday with a gesture viewed as anti-semitic and described by France’s Sports Minister as “disgusting”.
The scandal widened as European Jewish Congress President, Moshe Kantor, asked the Premier League to ban Anelka. The Football Association is considering opening an investigation.
“This salute is merely a lesser known Nazi salute and we expect the same kind of punishment to be handed down by the authorities as if Anelka had made the infamous outstretched arm salute,” Kantor said. “This salute was created by a well-known extreme anti-Semite who has displayed his hatred of Jews, mocked the Holocaust and Jewish suffering.”
The gesture, known as a “quenelle” – a traditional French dish – is often performed by French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala and is described as an inverted Nazi salute. It involves pointing one straightened arm downward while touching that arm’s shoulder with the opposite hand.
Anelka made the gesture after scoring the first of his two goals in a 3-3 draw at West Ham on Saturday. The former France internationalhas defended himself, saying he was merely expressing his support for Dieudonné. He took to Twitter again last night, saying his gesture was “anti-system”, and denied accusations of racism or anti-semitism.
“There should be no room for such intolerance and racism in sports and we expect the English Premier League officials as well as the police will give Anelka the appropriate punishment,” Kantor said.
On Saturday, West Brom’s caretaker manager Keith Downing said Anelka was “totally surprised” by the reaction to the gesture. “It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well,” Downing said of Anelka’s celebration. “He uses it in his act and I think speculation [that it is anti-semitic] can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish.”