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Anelka vows no repeat of ‘quenelle’ celebration

West Bromwich Albion's Nicolas Anelka

West Bromwich Albion's Nicolas Anelka

Nicolas Anelka has agreed not to perform his controversial ‘quenelle’ goal celebration again after West Brom conceded the gesture had caused offence.

The French striker has denied the salute had any anti-Semitic connotations but he caused a storm in his native France by making 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.”

West Brom caretaker boss Keith Downing said he may pick the striker for the match against Newcastle on Wednesday but admitted that the controversy - which is still being investigated by the FA - has become a distraction.

The ‘quenelle’ salute was brought to prominence in his homeland by French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism. The European Jewish Congress has demanded action against Anelka, claiming it is an inverted Nazi salute.

French minister for sport Valerie Fourneyron also condemned the gesture as “shocking” and “disgusting”.

Anelka has stated on Twitter it was nothing more than a “special dedication” to his friend Dieudonne.

The West Brom statement said the club’s own investigation was continuing alongside the FA’s.

It added: “Nicolas said that he performed the gesture to dedicate his goal to a friend and vehemently denied having any intention to cause offence.

“Upon reporting for training this morning, Nicolas was asked by sporting & technical director Richard Garlick to give a full explanation about his goal celebration, during which he again strongly denied intending to cause offence.”

Downing said he had spoken to Anelka about the celebration immediately after the game.

“He was categorically adamant that he didn’t mean to cause any problems and I was led to believe that,” Downing told a news conference.

“Obviously the last two days have been an education to realise what it was all about.

“The case is of him doing it, and didn’t mean to cause any offence or the trouble that it’s caused. We’ve spoken to Nico and now the FA will look into it and the powers that be and we have to deal with that. He’s aware of the issue.

“From football matters, I need to speak to Nico tomorrow and get a sort of feeling of how he’s feeling about the last couple of days. There’s a distraction to it and we’ll have to obviously find out tomorrow how it all is.”

Pictures have also emerged of two other French players, Samir Nasri and Mamadou Sakho, performing the gesture.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to comment on the matter.

 

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