Nicolas Anelka has been charged by the English FA for making an “abusive or indecent or insulting or improper” gesture with his goal celebration during West Bromwich Albion’s 3-3 draw with West Ham United at Upton Park on Dec. 28. The former France international has until 6 pm on Jan. 23 to respond to the charge, which carries a minimum suspension of five games if he is found guilty.
Anelka made the gesture, commonly referred to as a quenelle, after scoring the first of his two goals during the match. The gesture has anti-Semitic connotations and has been described by some as an inverted Nazi salute. Anelka, meanwhile, has insisted that he was merely paying homage to French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, and that the celebration was an anti-establishment gesture lacking racist intent. Nevertheless, the Guardian points out that Dieudonne has been accused in France of holding anti-Semitic views.
Meanwhile, West Brom shirt sponsor Zoopla has decided not to renew its sponsorship with the club when it’s current deal ends at the end of the season, thanks to Anelka’s gesture. Zoopla decided to go public with its decision on Monday, the day Anelka was charged, with its Jewish co-owner Alex Chesterman saying the property Web site had been reviewing its position ever since the French striker’s controversial goal celebration against West Ham.