Fury over Anelka’s ‘anti-semitic gesture’

The footballer’s coach defended him after Anelka said the salute was a dedication to his comedian friend Dieudonne.

Caretaker coach Keith Downing said speculation around the meaning of Anelka's salute was "absolute rubbish" [AFP]

The FA is to investigate an alleged anti-Semitic gesture made by West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka during a 3-3 Premier League draw at West Ham United.

An FA spokesman said his organisation would be launching a probe after Anelka’s actions on Saturday provoked widespread criticism.

The former France striker celebrated scoring a goal against West Ham with an apparent “quenelle” hand signal, made famous by French comedian Dieudonne, which is linked to anti-Semitism.

The national government is trying to ban his shows saying the gesture is increasingly linked to anti-Semitic remarks and acts in France.

Anelka could be suspended by the FA if they deem the act to be offensive.

“Anelka’s gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting,” French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron said on Twitter. “There’s no place for anti-Semitism on the football field.”

The former Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris St Germain striker tried to play down the incident.

“This gesture was a special dedication to my friend Dieudonne,” Anelka said on Twitter in both English and French.

‘Absolute rubbish’

The 34-year-old was backed by West Brom caretaker coach Keith Downing.

“It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well,” said Downing. “I think speculation can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really.

“He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around, he is totally surprised by it.”

The ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Football’ campaign group issued a statement on the Upton Park incident.

“The campaign is in contact with partners in England and France regarding this matter and has offered its support to the Football Association in any forthcoming investigation,” it said.

Anelka’s two goals were his first for 15th-placed West Brom, the club he joined as a free agent in the close season after a loan spell with Juventus ended.

Source: Reuters