Huffpost UK Sport uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jonathan Romain Headshot

What the Quenelle Is Going on With Anelka and the FA?

Posted: Updated:

Yesterday, France's equivalent of our Supreme Court banned the French comedian, Dieudonne, from performing his roadshow in Nantes on the grounds that it represented a "serious risk" to public order and to French "values and principles, notably human dignity".

This begs a big question about what the English Football Association (FA) is doing about Nicolas Anelka, the West Bromwich Albion player who recently unleashed a furore when he scored a goal and then made the quenelle gesture in celebration, which was broadcast live on television.

The quenelle is widely regarded as a Nazi salute in reverse and is the trademark of Dieudonne, whose wife has gone so far as to trademark it. Moreover, many people reckon that he is a very unfunny comedian in view of his anti-Jewish jokes, his five convictions for incitement to hatred, and being a close friend of Jean-Marie Le Pen, former leader of the racist and anti-semitic party, Front National.

Given all this, should not Anelka be facing charges of misconduct? Particularly as the FA has had a high profile campaign to eradicate all forms of racism, has adopted a zero-tolerance policy called 'Kick It Out', with racist chants from the fans subject to prosecution, and footballers punished too. Chelsea's John Terry was banned for four games for a verbal assault on a coloured player and Liverpool's Luis Suarez, missed eight games for using the term negrito

Yet nothing had happened to Anelka. He himself says the quenelle was not meant as anti-semitic but purely as a gesture of support for Dieudonne who is a personal friend of his. But as only anti-semites use the quenelle that is a hard one to swallow.

Luis Suarez said that when he used the word negrito he did not mean to be racist, but his defence was dismissed because lack of intent to be offensive - even if true - does not alter the fact that he uttered racist remarks. Otherwise you could paint a swastika on a synagogue wall and claim it was pretty shape you happened to like. If a word or symbol is known to be racist or anti-semitic, then the user is guilty of it.

So far the FA has refused to reveal any details of its investigation - such as what form it is taking, who is conducting it and how long it might last - while West Brom have defended Anelka and said criticism's of him are "absolute rubbish".

Could it be that Terry and Suarez are punished for racism and Anelka is excused for anti-semitism?

At the very least, his club should have issued a statement saying something like: "We appreciate the controversy Anelka's gesture has generated and we regret any offence that it has inadvertently caused. Both he and the club oppose all forms of anti-semitism, and so as to remove any doubt, neither he nor any of our players will using the quenelle in future".

That would be the decent thing to do... but the nature of the problem is that decency is a quality that seems to be in short supply in certain parts of France and England.

True, Anelka's gesture is a one-off, and we should not make a mountain out of a molehill - but we do need to keep an eye on that molehill and ensure that, like cancer, it does not grow and spread.

Around the Web

Nicolas Anelka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

nicolas anelka (anelkaofficiel) on Twitter

Nicolas Anelka | Facebook

Nicolas Anelka defends 'shocking' on-field gesture

The Nicolas Anelka quenelle storm shows why footballers should leave the ...

Controversial comic at centre of Anelka 'quenelle' storm banned from ...

Arsene Wenger baffled by Nicolas Anelka celebration