Nicolas Anelka Hit with Ban for 'Quenelle' Gesture; Reaction

Aaron BowerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

FILE - This Saturday Dec. 28, 2013 file photo shows West Bromwich Albion's Nicolas Anelka, right, as he gestures to celebrate his goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at Upton Park, London. The English Football Association has banned Nicolas Anelka for five games after finding the West Bromwich Albion striker guilty of causing racial offense with a goal celebration deemed anti-Semitic. Anelka had denied that his use of the gesture, which is known in France as a
Sang Tan/Associated Press

West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka has been hit with a five-game ban for his controversial "quenelle" gesture after being found guilty by a Football Association hearing.

In addition to the the ban, which will see him miss almost half of West Brom's remaining games in the Premier League, Anelka has been fined £80,000 and will have to complete a compulsory education course.

A statement on the FA's official website details the ins and outs of the decision:

An Independent Regulatory Commission has found an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 against Nicolas Anelka proven and has issued a five-match suspension and a fine of £80,000, pending appeal.

The West Bromwich Albion player has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course.

The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide written reasons for its decision in due course.

Anelka made the gesture shortly after scoring for West Brom in their draw against West Ham United back in December. His hearing lasted two days, during which he denied that his use of the gesture was anti-Semitic.

The Frenchman has the right to appeal the decision but has only seven days to do so. It is unclear whether Anelka will yet contest the decision.

The 34-year-old will provide a key miss for West Bromwich Albion in their battle to avoid the drop. Since joining the club in the summer, he has endured mixed form, scoring twice in just 11 starts. Coincidentally, those two goals came in the 3-3 draw with West Ham back in December—the game in which he made the 'quenelle' gesture.

However, despite that patchy form, he is a valued member of an Albion squad that is hovering perilously above the relegation zone in the Premier League. At present, they are just one point above the drop zone, and they must now compete for the next five games without one of their senior players.

For Anelka—a man who has played for the likes of Arsenal and Real Madrid in his illustrious career—it means he will now have to decide whether to appeal or face a serious blot on what has been an incredibly successful football career.