West Brom suspend Nicolas Anelka after guilty verdict in 'quenelle' case
Nicolas Anelka has been suspended by West Brom after he was found guilty of misconduct over his 'quenelle' gesture.
Last Updated: 27/02/14 10:07pm
An independent regulatory commission banned Anelka for five matches on Thursday after ruling he did breach the Football Association's code of conduct by making the gesture at West Ham in December.
The 'quenelle' has been associated with anti-Semitism by some French politicians, and the panel also upheld the FA's charge that his rule breach "included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".
Significantly, the ruling cleared Anelka of any anti-Semitic motivation, a part of the verdict which the player later welcomed.
But that has not stopped West Brom suspending the 34-year-old pending the outcome of any appeal and the conclusion of their own internal investigation.
A club statement read: "West Bromwich Albion treats very seriously any such allegation which includes any reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion and/or belief.
"The club acknowledges that the FA panel 'did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle'.
"However, the club cannot ignore the offence that his actions have caused, particularly to the Jewish community, nor the potential damage to the club's reputation."
West Brom's shirt sponsors Zoopla have already said the Anelka case means they will not renew their current deal with the club when it expires the end of the season.
In the meantime, he will have seven days to lodge an appeal once the commission gives full written reasons for its final decision.
A statement from his legal team read: "Nicolas Anelka is pleased the commission has found him not to be an anti-Semite and that he did not intend to express or promote anti-Semitism.
"He is now waiting to receive the commissions full reasons for their decision before considering whether or not to appeal. He has been advised not to make any further comment."
Anelka has been ordered to attend an education programme and must pay the full costs of the hearing, and Albion will now be without the striker at a time when they are fighting to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
The 'quenelle' gesture was popularised by a French comedian and friend of Anelka, and the former France international has always maintained his actions were anti-establishment and in support of his friend.
Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, supported the ruling.
He said: "This supports the FA's decision to invoke its own regulations after its assiduous report concluded that Mr Anelka's gesture had anti-Semitic connotations and is highly offensive to Jews and right-minded members of the public."
But editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, Stephen Pollard, told Sky Sports News the governing body should have gone much further.
He said: "If the FA thinks there was nothing anti-Semitic about it, or at least that there was no intent, why are they sending him on a course? In case he makes further unintended gestures?
"The whole thing is ludicrous. They've given him the minimum ban possible. It's not even close to being punishment enough. It's the minimum punishment possible under the FA's rule, and the ruling is wrong."