Ex footballer Nicolas Anelka, whose 2013 quenelle during a Premier League match caused widespread consternation, has claimed the salute was addressed to his former manager Steve Clark.
The 41 year-old, who is the subject of the new Netflix documentary Anelka: Misunderstood, which was first aired last week, struck the pose during his stint with West Bromwich Albion after scoring a goal against West Ham United.
The gesture, which involves pointing an outstretched arm towards the ground with the other hand on your shoulder, has become associated with antisemitism, with some critics labelling it an inverted Nazi salute.
The controversy resulted in the French athlete’s five-match ban by the Football Association and an £80,000 fine before his eventual sacking.
In the documentary, Anelka says the hand signal was a response to his fallout with Clarke, with whom he’d stopped speaking.
“He didn’t use me. What happened is what always happens. You act smart but sometimes you get burned. So five games, five defeats, ciao,” he says.
“People don’t know it because I never wanted to talk about Steve Clarke, but when I do the quenelle, it’s for him,” he adds. “You were there and didn’t use me. As soon as you left and I play and score. Take that.”
Former president of France’s Jewish umbrella group CRIF Roger Cukierman briefly appears on the documentary.
“It’s a bit exaggerated to charge him. It’s not at all as if it was made in front of a synagogue or in front of a memorial concerning the Holocaust,” he says.
Anelka previously said the celebration had been intended as a show of support for his friend, the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who is thought to have popularised the gesture.
Dieudonne, previously convicted over antisemitic comments, was recently banned from Facebook and Instagram.