West Bromwich Albion on Friday suspended striker Nicolas Anelka after the Frenchman was banned for five games by the English FA and fined 80,000 pounds ($133,800) for using the controversial quenelle gesture after celebrating a goal against West Ham United in December. On Thursday, the FA found Anelka guilty of making a gesture that was "abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, and that included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
Though Anelka insisted that the quenelle gesture was simply a way of paying homage to his friend, French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, the quenelle gesture, which is a kind of inverted Nazi salute, is considered anti-Semitic. Anelka said that he believed the gesture to be anti-establishment. The FA showed that it believed the French striker had no anti-Semitic agenda in handing him the minimum five-game ban.
West Brom, however, has faced criticism for the way it handled the issue, as Anelka was made available for selection after the charges were brought against him. The club has now suspended the striker until further notice, pending its own investigation. Regarding the FA’s decision, Anelka will have seven days to appeal once he receives a written report detailing the reasons for the ban.