West Brom’s shirt sponsors tell club to drop Frenchman after quenelle gesture or they will lose £3m deal
- Zoopla say Anelka must be dropped for Monday’s game at home to Everton
- Anelka should know by early next week whether the FA will charge him
- Striker performed gesture after scoring against West Ham in December
- The two-year deal with the property website is due to run out this summer
Sponsors Zoopla have told West Bromwich Albion to axe Nicolas Anelka or lose their £3million deal.
The former France striker should know early next week whether the FA will charge him over the quenelle gesture he made after scoring against West Ham three weeks ago.
Albion fear he could be handed a lengthy ban and have called on the FA to speed up their investigation.
Controversy: The quenelle is a gesture linked with anti-Semitism back in Anelka’s French homeland
But, according to a report in Marketing Week, the property portal has contacted the club to voice their dissatisfaction following Anelka’s actions, which some say carry anti-Semitic overtures.
Zoopla, owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, say Anelka must be dropped for Monday night’s game against Everton and have told the club they will want their name removed from the club’s shirts immediately if he plays.
A club spokesman said: ‘West Bromwich Albion will be making no further comment until the Football Association have concluded their investigation, and the club their own internal enquiry, into the matter.’
Back in action: Anelka featured in West Brom’s last game – away at Southampton
Bittersweet: Anelka performed the salute after scoring the first of two goals in a 3-3 draw with West Ham
Albion had played down the issue and kept the 34-year-old striker in their side. But they are aware of the arguments around the incident and are conscious of the club’s image.
One Jewish Albion fan said: ‘I want to support the club I love, but their refusal to issue a real apology or remove Anelka from first-team selection makes that somewhat difficult.’
If Anelka does receive a long ban, it would cast a shadow over his Albion career. Signed by former manager Steve Clarke in the summer, he got off to a troubled start when he announced he planned to quit the game following the sudden death of close friend Eric Manasse.
Though Clarke convinced him to play on, Anelka struggled for form, then suffered a series of injuries.
National outrage: The quenelle was popularised by Anelka’s ‘friend’, French comedian Dieudonne. Here, anti-Dieudonne protesters converge on Paris in opposition against the controversial figure
Friends: The then-West Brom acting head coach Keith Downing says that the gesture was a dedication from Anelka (right) to his French comedian friend Dieudonne (left), which Anelka reiterated on Twitter
Zoopla.co.uk is a property website and is part of the Zoopla Property Group Ltd, a privately held company whose shareholders include DMG Media, a division of DMGT plc, the company which owns the Daily Mail.
CAUGHT UP IN THE RACE ROW
The Liverpool defender was pictured twice doing the gesture, once with Dieudonne, last
month. But he later said he did not know what it meant and had been ‘tricked’.
The Hull forward tweeted a picture of Anelka’scelebration and wrote: ‘Anelka is a legend i love him is a best french striker’ and included a message ofsupport for Dieudonne.
The website’s two-year deal is due to run out this summer and no announcement has been made about a renewal. The latest problems almost certainly leave the club looking for a new backer for next season, if not before.
The authorities have to consider the legalities of the Frenchman’s latest predicament and the club’s sporting and technical director Richard Garlick has asked the FA to come up with a decision quickly.
He said: ‘It would help everyone for the investigation to be over as soon as possible. The FA have given a statement about how quickly they would do that.’
Anelka could be short of firepower without Anelka, having sold Shane Long to Hull City yesterday.
However, the club have confirmed they will not be spending during the transfer window.
‘We have a number of strikers who have emerged, including Saido Berahino,’ said Garlick. ‘If we need to get a short-term deal to solve any striking issue, then we will try to do that.
‘We have a good selection of strikers. They have all trained this week.’
Controversial: This picture of Samir Nasri (left) apparently performing the ‘quenelle’ was on social media sites
Defiant: A group performs the ‘quenelle’ salutes in front of the theatre Dieudonne’s performing at
WHAT IS ‘LA QUENELLE’?
When West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka scored the first of his two goals in Saturday’s 3-3 Premier League draw at West Ham, he celebrated by making a gesture largely unfamiliar to fans of English football.
But the salute, known in France as ‘la quenelle’, is the subject of a fierce national debate that has reached the French interior ministry and stands accused of sparking a spate of attacks across Anelka’s homeland.
Here, we explore the origins of the controversial gesture and the motives of its self-proclaimed inventor, the stand-up comedian and political activist Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala:
- ‘Quenelle’ means ‘scoop’ or ‘dumpling’ and is performed by holding one arm straight by one’s side while touching that arm’s shoulder with the opposite hand.
- It has been described by its critics as a ‘Nazi salute in reverse’ and, thusly, as an expression of anti-Semitism.
- Forty-seven-year-old M’Bala M’Bala, who goes by the stage name of Dieudonne, has turned the ‘quenelle’ into something of a viral trend since first performing it four years ago.
- Once a committed anti-racism campaigner, Dieudonne has since been linked to the political far right in France.
- French interior minister Manuel Valls is considering banning all public performances by the comedian. In the wake of Anelka’s public use of the gesture, which the player stated was simply a ‘special dedication’ to his good friend Dieudonne, French minister for sport Valerie Fourneyron described his actions as ‘shocking’ and ‘disgusting’.
- Anelka has previously been photographed performing the gesture alongside Dieudonne but Saturday’s events brought the debate to England while provoking further outrage and debate in France, where the match was televised.
- Dieudonne, who has past convictions for making anti-Semitic remarks, insists the ‘quenelle’ is merely ‘an anti-establishment gesture’ but his critics are concerned about its motivation.
- When Dieudonne insulted Jewish radio presenter Patrick Cohen this week, French interior minister Manuel Valls vowed to use any legal means necessary to ban any future public appearances by the comedian. Valls told newspaper Le Parisien: ‘Dieudonne has been repeatedly condemned for defamation, insult and incitement to racial hatred. He is a repeat offender and I intend to act with the greatest firmness, under the law.’
- The English Football Association is considering opening an investigation into the possible connotations of the salute. FIFA rules state: ‘1. a) Anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin shall be suspended for at least five matches. Furthermore, a stadium ban and a fine of at least CHF 20,000 shall be imposed. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine shall be at least CHF 30,000.
Source : Daily Mail