The former west Brom footballer suspended for five matches over his quenelle goal celebration has provoked fresh anger by appearing at a charity press conference wearing a T-shirt with a design that appeared to be based on the inflammatory gesture.
Nicolas Anelka turned up in the offending shirt to the event marking the first anniversary of the Youssouf Mulumbu Foundation – named after his one-time teammate -in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The garment features a Superman logo seemingly adapted to depict the quenelle, which has been widely criticised as “an inverted Nazi salute”.
The item can be purchased from the website of Anelka’s friend Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who first brought the sign to prominence and who has convictions in France for hate speech. It appears in an online ‘boutique’ as ‘t-shirt super quenelle’, priced at 20 Euros.
Reacting to the latest controversy, the CST’s deputy director of communications Dave Rich said the footballer “appears to be completely unrepentant”. He added: “Nicholas Anelka clearly has no concern for the feelings of all the people he offended. We expect the FA to ensure that he fulfils all parts of his punishment, wherever he ends up playing next”.
Two months after making the gesture during a match against West Ham, the French player – who had argued the sign was not anti-Semitic and was simply in support of his friend – was in February banned for five matches and fined £80,000 by the Football Association.
The FA’s independent regulatory commission said in a statement at the time that the two charges Anelka faced – that the gesture was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, and that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief – were both found proved.
However, the Commission “did not find that Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle”. He was nevertheless suspended by West Brom with which he has since parted company.
Meanwhile, Hull City striker Yannick Sagbo received a two-match ban over a tweet supporting Anelka’s use of thequenelle. The ban came after the FA appealed an earlier punishment of a £15,000 fine and warning after he admitted the offence.
An FA statement said: “At a hearing, an independent appeal board upheld the FA’s appeal against the original sanction imposed and ordered that Sagbo be suspended for Hull City’s first two competitive first-team matches of the 2014-15 season in addition to the £15,000 fine and attendance at an education programme.
“This decision is final and binding and there is no right of further challenge.”