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Anelka challenges FA charge for 'quenelle'

ESPN staff
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Anelka's celebration last month has brought an ongoing debate over its intent © Getty Images
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Nicolas Anelka has confirmed that he will challenge the FA's charge against him for the quenelle gesture he used in celebration against West Ham last month, and insists that he is not racist or anti-Semitic.

In a statement posted on Anelka's official Facebook page, the West Brom striker suggested that only an expert living in France could accurately interpret his gesture and that it is an act of rebellion, not a racially aggravated gesture as suggested by many.

The statement was written in French, and translates in English as follows: "The English Football Association hired an expert to decide the meaning of my quenelle... The latter concluded that my gesture had an anti-Semitic connotation, which led to my accusation by the FA.

"It would have been legitimate that this expert was French, living in France, and so could have an exact knowledge of my gesture. What better expert that Mr Cukierman, president of CRIF (Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France) [representative for Jewish Institutions of France], who explains it very clearly that my quenelle could not be considered anti-Semitic!

"He also explained accurately and at what time this gesture could have such a connotation.

"I therefore ask the FA to kindly remove the charge against me. And I repeat, I am neither anti-Semitic nor racist."

The FA charged Anelka on Tuesday for violating rule E3 with his gesture after scoring for West Brom against West Ham on December 28.

Their statement read: "It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3[1]. It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3[2], in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

West Brom have been criticised for not taking any formal disciplinary action against Anelka to date, and shirt sponsor Zoopla have announced that they will not extend their backing beyond the end of this season because of the gesture.

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