Anelka vows no 'quenelle' repeat

Congleton Guardian: West Brom's Nicolas Anelka, centre, said he will no longer perform the 'quenelle' celebration West Brom's Nicolas Anelka, centre, said he will no longer perform the 'quenelle' celebration

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.

The photograph of Manchester City playmaker Nasri was taken outside the club's Carrington training base and is thought to date back to November.

It is understood that Nasri was unaware of the anti-Semitic or political connotations of the gesture and did it because of its popularity in France.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to comment on the matter when asked at a press conference to preview his side's New Year's Day game at Swansea.

Pellegrini said: "I don't know what you are talking about. I haven't seen it.

"I read that something happened with Anelka but I don't know anything about Samir. I can't talk about something I haven't seen."

Liverpool defender Sakho said in November that he was tricked into performing the gesture.

He wrote on his Twitter account: "This photo was taken six months ago, I did not know the meaning of this gesture, I got trapped!"

On Monday, a Liverpool spokesperson told Press Association Sport: "Mamadou Sakho has explained that when posing for the photo, taken over six months ago, he had no knowledge of any meaning or significance attached to the gesture."

Nasri clarified his position about the 'quenelle' in a series of Twitter messages on Monday evening, stressing it was his view that it should be portrayed as an anti-establishment gesture rather anything more sinister.

Nasri wrote: "The pose in the picture i posted over 2 months ago symbolises being against the system. Its has absolutely nothing to do with being anti semitic or against jewish people. I apologise for causing any hurt to anyone who might have been mislead into thinking this means anything of that nature."

The ongoing debate surrounding the gesture has also drawn in French basketball star Tony Parker, who plays in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs and has been pictured in the pose alongside Dieudonne.

Parker came in for criticism before released a statement through his team on Monday to stress he did not realise its connotations and to apologise.

The statement said: "While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it.

"When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful.

"Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions.

"Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt."

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