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Anelka denies FA charge over 'quenelle' gesture

ESPN staff
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Nicolas Anelka celebrates after scoring at West Ham with a controversial 'quenelle' gesture, which is alleged to be anti-Semitic © Getty Images
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West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has denied his charge from the FA and is now facing a minimum five-game suspension if found guilty, following his controversial quenelle gesture.

Anelka had until 6 pm. on Thursday to inform the FA as to whether he would contest the charge, which had been brought against him earlier this week after the governing body received expert advice over the gesture, which is alleged to have anti-Semitic connotations.

Following the news of the charge, Anelka had indicated on his Facebook page that he planned to fight it, saying: "It would have been more legitimate for this [FA] expert to be French, living in France, who would have an accurate knowledge of my actions.

"I therefore ask the English federation to kindly remove the charges it has levelled against me. And I repeat: I am neither an anti-Semite nor a racist."

A statement on West Brom's official website on Thursday evening read: "West Bromwich Albion can confirm that Nicolas Anelka has denied an FA charge regarding the gesture he made after scoring his first goal against West Ham United on December 28.

"The striker has requested a personal hearing. The club will make no further comment until The FA's disciplinary process has reached a conclusion."

Anelka has previously confirmed on Twitter that he made the gesture in support of his friend, the comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism and banned from performing in a number of major cities in France. However, the striker insists his quenelle had no anti-Semitic intent and was merely a means of protesting against the system.

Anelka will be the first player held to account under new guidelines brought in after the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra affair. Suarez did receive legal representation provided by Liverpool, but was still handed an eight-match suspension.

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