Nicolas Anelka charged by FA for controversial quenelle gesture

Nicolas Anelka has been charged by the Football Association for making a gesture that was alleged to be "abusive or indecent or insulting or improper" during the match against West Ham on 28 December last year.
An FA statement said: "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 [1].

"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3 [2], in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

Anelka has until 6pm on 23 January 2014 to respond to the charge.

The minimum suspension for the offence is five games though the FA could make it more.

Anelka made the gesture, commonly interpreted as a quenelle, during a goal celebration against West Ham United last month. The quenelle has antisemitic connotations and has been described by some as an inverted Nazi salute, although Anelka has insisted he was merely showing solidarity with the French comedian Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, who brought the gesture to prominence, and that it was an anti-establishment gesture lacking any racist intent.

Dieudonné, however, has a chequered past Рhe has been prosecuted by the French government for insulting the memory of Holocaust victims and for holding antisemitic views. He was also recently banned from performing in Nantes.