ANELKA

Nicolas Anelka has agreed not to perform his controversial ‘quenelle’ goal celebration again, according to a statement released by his club West Brom.

The French striker has denied the salute had any anti-Semitic connotations but he caused a storm in his native France by the gesture during the 3-3 draw with West Ham.

West Brom say they accept the celebration has caused some offence and that Anelka has been asked to refrain from doing it again – and that he has agreed to do so.

A club statement said: “The club fully acknowledges that Nicolas’ goal celebration has caused offence in some quarters and has asked Nicolas not to perform the gesture again. Nicolas immediately agreed to adhere to this request.”

Anelka initially defended his controversial goal celebration during Saturday’s 3-3 draw with West Ham after it emerged the Frenchman could face a Football Association charge.

The 34-year-old scored his first Baggies goals with a brace at Upton Park after being recalled to the starting line-up for the first time in over two months.

But during his celebration for his first strike, which levelled the game following Joe Cole’s effort for the Hammers, Anelka seemingly performed the ‘quenelle’ salute made famous by French comedian Dieudonne.

The gesture has been linked to anti-Semitism in his homeland.

After West Brom caretaker manager Keith Downing said Anelka had been “surprised” by the resulting outcry, the player on Saturday night claimed the salute had simply been made as a “special dedication” to his friend.

“This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonne,” he tweeted in both French and English on his official account.

However, the French minister for sport Valerie Fourneyron had earlier condemned the gesture on Twitter, describing it as “shocking” and “disgusting”.

She wrote: “Anelka’s gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting. There’s no place for anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred on the football field.”

Following the draw, in which Modibo Maiga and Kevin Nolan goals had briefly put West Ham back in front before Saido Berahino finished the goalscoring to earn West Brom a point, interim Baggies boss Downing was quick to defend Anelka.

“I’m aware of it but it has got nothing to do with what is being said,” Downing replied when asked about the gesture.

“It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well. He uses it in his act and I think speculation can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really.

“He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around, he is totally surprised by it.”

In a statement, anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out said: “Kick It Out has been made aware of West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka making an alleged gesture, known as the ‘quenelle’, which carries antisemitic connotations during today’s (28 December) fixture against West Ham United at Upton Park.

“The campaign is in contact with partners in England and France regarding this matter and has offered its support to the Football Association in any forthcoming investigation.”

Anelka had not played since the 4-1 defeat to Liverpool on October 26 but was recalled as one of six changes made by Downing, who looked to prevent any tiredness with the game coming less than 48 hours after a Boxing Day draw at Tottenham.

Meanwhile, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor has called on West Brom to issue ban Anelka with a ban. He said: “This salute is merely a lesser known Nazi salute and we expect the same kind of punishment to be handed down by the authorities as if Anelka had made the infamous outstretched arm salute. It is sickening that such a well-known footballer would make such an abusive and hateful gesture in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

“There should be no room for such intolerance and racism in sports and we expect that the English Premier League officials as well as the police will give Anelka the appropriate punishment.”

VIDEO: Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer discusses Anelka’s ‘anti-Semitic’ gesture on Sky Sports News: