Updates from Tuesday, Jan. 21
Nicolas Anelka has responded to backlash of his "quenelle" gesture with a tweet and video. The translation is "Nothing to add":
The BBC clarified who is featured in the video:
The man in the video is Roger Cukierman, head of Jewish organisation CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) and vice-president of the World Jewish Congress.
Speaking to French daily newspaper Le Figaro, he argues the "quenelle" is only anti-Semitic when it is performed at a Jewish site.
"This [potential punishment] seems a bit harsh to me," Cukierman said.
"That gesture can only have an anti-Semitic connotation when performed at a synagogue or a memorial to Holocaust victims. In a place that has no significance for Jews it is merely an anti-establishment gesture which I feel does not warrant any harsh sanction."
West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka has been suspended by the Football Association following a controversial gesture made during the Baggies' 3-3 draw at West Ham United on Saturday, Dec. 28, as reported by the FA's official Twitter account:
As covered in the governing body's official statement, Anelka is alleged to have broken the following rules:
It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3.
It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.
The incident in question occurred during the 40th minute of the recent Premier League contest, after Anelka scored the first of his two goals. The 34-year-old's celebration included the "quenelle" gesture, which closely resembles the Nazi salute and has been described by the French sports minister as "disgusting" and "anti-Semitic," according to BBC Sport.
West Brom reacted to Tuesday's charge with the following statement, per the club's official website:
Anelka has received a 34-page document explaining the allegations against him and informing him that he has until 6pm on Thursday to respond. The player is now considering his options.
Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until The FA’s disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this, the Club will conclude its own internal enquiry.
According to Anelka's Twitter account via BBC Sport and Sky Sports News, the gesture was not intended to offend and was done in support of controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, who also uses the salute and has come under fire by the French government:
Former teammate Romelu Lukaku has called on the FA to go easy on Anelka, per Rob Harris of the Associated Press:
Metro's Massimo Marioni provided an additional statement from Lukaku:
He [Anelka] was my idol since I was a kid, and still is.
He shouldn’t be banned for that. He just supported a stand-up comedian in France, so we don’t have to make such a big deal about it.
I hope he doesn’t get suspended because he’s a player people want to see play on the pitch.
Losing Anelka certainly hurts West Brom's chances of starting the new year on a high note and improving in the league table.
After all, this is a squad that has struggled mightily in the final third all season long, scoring just 24 goals in 22 league matches. While that mark is better than most clubs at the bottom of the table, it pales in comparison to England's elite units.
Although the Frenchman has accounted for just two goals all season long, keep in mind that no Baggies player has scored more than three in 2013-14.
West Brom are currently 13th in the Premier League table and fighting to avoid relegation at season's end. They have won just four of their 22 league games and are four points ahead of last-place Cardiff heading into Week 23's Midlands clash with Aston Villa.
Anelka has until 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET on Jan. 23 to respond.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.