Premier League - Anelka contests FA charge, insists quenelle not anti-Semitic

West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has announced he will contest the FA’s charge regarding his ‘quenelle’ gesture, insisting that the expert appointed to analyse his goal celebration was not qualified to comment.

Former France international Anelka, 34, drew widespread condemnation for making the salute after scoring during his side’s 3-3 draw with West Ham last month.

The ‘quenelle’ – a straight-arm downwards salute with one hand over the heart – was popularised by French comedian Dieudonne Mbala-Mbala, a close friend of Anelka’s who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitic comments in the past.

After spending several weeks analysing the incident with the help of an expert on anti-Semitic behaviour, the FA charged him under Rule E3 for "making an abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper gesture".

But Anelka – and many French people – insist the ‘quenelle’ is not anti-Semitic but anti-establishment, and that it can only be seen as derogatory to Jews if made in that context.

He added that the FA should have appointed an expert from France, using comments made by a prominent French Jew in a video previously Tweeted by the player.

“The English FA employed an expert to analyse the meaning of my quenelle. It has been concluded that my gesture has an anti-Semitic connotation, which constitutes the accusation made against me by the FA,” Anelka wrote in French on his Facebook page.

“The FA should have used a French expert, living in France, who was thus able to have a precise understanding of my gesture.

“What better expert than Mr Cukierman, president of the CRIF (Represent Council of French Jewish Institutions), who explained very clearly that my quenelle could not be considered anti-Semitic!

“He has additionally explained with precision at which moment this gesture could be considered to have this connotation.

“I ask that the FA withdraws these charges that have been levelled against me. And I repeat, I am neither an anti-Semite nor a racist.”

The expert to which Anelka refers is Roger Cukierman, a former banker who heads up the CRIF and is also the vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

Cukierman said that the ‘quenelle’ could only be deemed anti-Semitic if specifically performed towards Jews or areas of significance to Jewish people, such as Holocaust memorials.

Otherwise, Cukierman said, it was correct to deem the gesture anti-establishment at best or anti-Zionist at worse.

The fall-out from the incident has seen West Brom lose sponsor Zoopla, whose co-owner is Jewish, while both the club and the FA have been widely criticised for the slow movement on the case.