Yannick Sagbo, Benoit Assou-Ekotto Charged with Improper Conduct for Quenelle

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2014

HULL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24:  Hull striker Yannick Sagbo stre during the FA Cup Fifth round replay between Hull City and Brighton & Hove Albion at KC Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Updates from Tuesday, April 22

The FA has announced Sagbo's punishment, according to an official press release:

Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, Yannick Sagbo has been fined £15,000, subject to any appeal, after he admitted an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3.

The Hull City player was also warned as to his future conduct and ordered to complete a compulsory education course.

Mr Sagbo was charged by The FA with improper conduct concerning social media postings relating to the quenelle gesture.

Original Text

Hull City's Yannick Sagbo and Queens Park Rangers' Benoit Assou-Ekotto have both been charged with improper conduct over posts on social media related to the controversial "Quenelle" gesture.

SunSport Now reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday:

The gesture, which reportedly has a strong anti-Semitic meaning in France, recently caused a media storm in England when former West Bromwich Albion forward Nicolas Anelka performed said gesture on the pitch, leading to a fine and suspension and his eventual release from the club, as reported by CNN.   

The former French international claimed he was unaware of the controversial nature surrounding the symbol and stated he only performed the gesture in support of comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who uses the "Quenelle" in his act.

As reported by Simon Johnson, Sagbo and Assou-Ekotto weren't the only two players contacted by the FA:

BBC Humberside Sport claims Sagbo's posts were related to Anelka's use of the gesture:

The news that players from the "smaller" clubs would be charged while Samir Nasri and Mamadou Sakho were only issued warnings didn't sit well with some fans:

The FA released its official statement on the matter of the four cases:

Having considered the particular facts of each case extremely carefully in consultation with our appointed expert, The FA has on Tuesday charged Mr Assou-Ekotto and Mr Sagbo with improper conduct contrary to FA Rule E3 in relation to their postings on Twitter.

It is alleged that in each case the comment was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to Rule E3(1). It is further alleged that each players' breach of Rule E3(1) was an “Aggravated Breach” as defined in Rule E3(2), as the comment included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief. 

Both players have until April 8 2014 to respond to the charges.

The FA has issued Mr Nasri with a formal warning. Mr Sakho has been reminded of his responsibilities as a participant. As the cases involving Mr Assou-Ekotto and Mr Sagbo are ongoing, The FA will make no further comment on any of these four cases at this time.

The "Quenelle" was popularised by M'Bala M'Bala as an anti-establishment symbol in France and has spread rapidly in the last six months, with numerous public figures performing the gesture in support of the controversial comedian.

Along with Anelka, NBA star Tony Parker was one of the biggest sports stars that was forced to issue an apology after he was photographed performing the gesture, per The Guardian's Martin Pengelly.

While Anelka and Parker claimed to be performing the gesture as a protest, Jewish leaders and anti-racism groups claim the symbol has strong anti-Semitic meanings, explaining some of the outrage these recent events have caused.