SPORT

Nicolas Anelka Defends 'Misunderstood' Quenelle Gesture

04/04/2014 07:59 BST | Updated 04/04/2014 08:59 BST

Nicolas Anelka has defended his infamous quenelle gesture and claimed that if it makes him anti-Semitic then "all priests are paedophiles and all Muslims are terrorists."

Anelka was banned for five matches and fined £80,000 in February for his celebration after he scored for West Brom in their 3-3 Premier League draw at West Ham in December. The Baggies sacked him last month.

The French striker claimed his reaction was dedicated to French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, who established the action and is linked to anti-Semitism and extremism.

nicolas anelka celebration

Anelka's fraught English football career ended in disgrace

M'bala M'bala is banned from entering British shores, however Anelka claims his action was "very misunderstood".

Anelka told Metro News: "I have no record of racism or anti-Semitism, there is no evidence to support it, not even a shred of evidence… I have never had a problem with the Jewish community, and besides why would I have? There are so many questions and no answers.

"At some point we must stop being paranoid and believing that we are all at war. The people who wrote the headlines do not know my life."

Anelka claimed it is wrong to stereotype those who make the gesture when M'bala M'Bala himself denies it is anti-Semitic. Yet he also described the gesture as "vulgar".

"Because some people have performed [the quenelle] in front of a synagogue, then the gesture is suddenly meant to be racist and anti-Semitic in any place and in any situation?

Anelka vs West Ham

"Sorry, I'm not swallowing that. I've tried to swallow it but it won't go down. So if I understand correctly, all priests are paedophiles and all Muslims are terrorists? For me, it's the same principle.

"If this continues, the people who decide that the quenelle is racist will soon ban us from eating pineapples!

"It is a vulgar gesture, I grant you. There was never any religious intent on my part… I am neither racist nor anti-Semitic and this quenelle was a simple dedication."