On this day in 2013 – Nicolas Anelka agrees to stop using the ‘quenelle’

The France forward made the sign after scoring in West Brom’s 3-3 draw at West Ham.

By Press Association Published: 30 December 2021 - 6.00am

Nicolas Anelka agreed not to perform his controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture again when celebrating goals on this day in 2013.

The France forward made the sign – described as an inverted Nazi salute – after scoring the first of his two goals in West Brom’s 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28.

France’s sports minister accused him of a “disgusting anti-Semitic” gesture.

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Chelsea v Liverpool – Stamford Bridge
Nicolas Anelka, pictured during his time at Chelsea, played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe (Sean Dempsey/PA)

A West Brom statement read: “Nicolas was asked to explain his goal celebration by caretaker head coach Keith Downing within minutes of the game finishing at West Ham.

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

Comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala had faced widespread criticism for using the gesture in his shows, and Anelka confirmed on Twitter he had done the ‘quenelle’ celebration in support of the performer.

Dieudonne’s shows were subsequently banned in several French cities.

“Nicolas said that he performed the gesture to dedicate his goal to a friend and vehemently denied having any intention to cause offence”
- West Brom statement on Anelka's goal celebration

The West Brom statement, issued two days after the West Ham game, added: “Upon reporting for training this morning, Nicolas was asked by sporting and technical director Richard Garlick to give a full explanation about his goal celebration, during which he again strongly denied intending to cause offence.

“The club has asked Nicolas not to perform the gesture again. Nicolas immediately agreed to adhere to this request.”

The action led to Zoopla, co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, ending its sponsorship of West Brom.

In February 2014, Anelka was banned for five matches by the Football Association and fined £80,000 for his ‘quenelle’ gesture.

He was also ordered to complete a compulsory education course and suspended by West Brom as the club launched an internal investigation.

Anelka, who counted Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid among his clubs during a distinguished career, never played for West Brom again after the FA verdict.

Albion announced in March that Anelka had been sacked for gross misconduct after he wrote on social media he was leaving with “immediate effect”.

Anelka eventually wound down his career in the Indian Super League.

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £25 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.