English Premiership

FA accept Anelka ban length

2014-03-13 21:45
Nicolas Anelka (AFP Photo)

London - England's governing Football Association have said on Thursday they would not be appealing against a five-match ban imposed on Nicolas Anelka for his controversial 'quenelle' gesture.

Former France striker Anelka, 34, was given a five-game suspension, as well as an £80 000 fine, last month after making the gesture during West Bromwich Albion's 3-3 draw at West Ham United in the English Premiership in December.

The independent disciplinary commission body that imposed the ban revealed the reasons for its decision in a 35-page report released last Thursday in which it stated that the 'quenelle' is "strongly associated with anti-Semitism".

However, the commission said that it was not satisfied that Anelka intended to "express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle".

Its report also revealed that the FA had unsuccessfully pushed for a stronger sanction than the mandatory minimum five-game ban.

But the FA said Thursday it did not consider "there is a real prospect of successfully appealing to extend the sanction imposed".

Its statement said: "Having carefully considered the written reasons of the independent regulatory commission together with our appointed QC (senior advocate), the FA confirm they will not be appealing the sanction imposed on Nicolas Anelka.

"The grounds of appeal available to the FA are limited to legal challenges or to circumstances in which the sanction imposed is 'so unduly lenient as to be unreasonable'.

"As the written reasons make clear, the FA pressed the commission at the original hearing to impose a suspension of greater than five matches.

"The FA does not consider there is a real prospect of successfully appealing to extend the sanction imposed."

The three-person commission that considered Anelka's case revealed that it had studied performances and interviews given by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, who was responsible for inventing the 'quenelle' salute -- one arm straightened and pointed downwards, the other held across the chest.

The comedian, known simply as Dieudonne, has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism in France and the commission found that "Dieudonne is strongly associated with anti-Semitism and, as a result, we found that the quenelle is strongly associated with anti-Semitism".

However, the commission added that "the question of whether objectively the quenelle contained a reference to anti-Semitism is different from the question of whether Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite and different from the question of whether he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his gesture".

Both Anelka and the FA had seven days in which to appeal.

Anelka has played for some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid, but has a reputation as a troublemaker, having notably been sent home from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and subsequently banned for 18 matches after clashing with France coach Raymond Domenech.

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