Nicolas Anelka: The “Quenelle” and how it led to his West Brom demise

With 11 different clubs, spanning over 2 different continents over a 19 year career in the game, its safe to say Nicolas Anelka is not short of being the complete definition of a “journey man” and with controversy never being to far away from the Frenchmen’s life as a professional footballer.

In the South African World Cup in 2010, Anelka let his feelings known to French national team manager Raymond Domenech in colorful fashion saying some unsavory things to thee Lyon legend, which seemed to set the tone for the rest of France ‘s disastrous campaign.

Skip forward just under 4 years later, Nicolas Anelka is back in the Premier League, this time in the a West Bromwich Albion shirt after a relatively uneventful loan stint with Juventus. Steve Clarke’s motives of the signing were questioned, mainly his age in comparison to the amount of wages he would be entitled too, but not many necks were twisted to the direction of the Hawthorns at the time.

5 months into his tenure in an Albion shirt, claims of Nicolas Anelka’s goal celebration in an action packed 3-3 draw with West Ham were adjudged to be what is known as Anti-Semitic hand gesture.

Now, what is known currently at the time about this particular hand gesture which Anelka “performed” per say, the “Quenelle” gesture, which in English, this gesture is quiet candidly translated to “Up Yours” specifically up ones Bottom, or whatever terminology you prefer on using.

You may think, on the surface of this it isn’t that harmful of a celebration right? Not quite.

The creation of the “Quenelle” comes from the comedian, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala. It has used it in more than one context, although most notably uses it in an “Anti-Zionist” context, mainly used in his 2009 European Election campaign for his own Anti-Zionist party.

With football being a worldwide sport, and the Premier League being the embodiment of a worldwide brand, and the Quenelle having such anti-Semitic connotations, then I can completely agree and personally would have imposed bigger sanctions on Nicolas Anelka.

A 5 game ban and a £80,000 fine for a footballer that arguably earns that figure in 2 weeks and is injured currently anyway isn’t a punishment that he cant handle. However, this wasn’t the only consequence Anelka would face.

With West Brom’s main shirt sponsor, a valuable source of revenue for any team in the Premier League, with some clubs receiving up to £20m a season for this spot on a shirt, officially terminating the sponsorship agreement between the two parties at the end of the current season, after the CEO of Zoopla – the popular online estate agency – took offence to the celebration after viewing it as anti-Semitic and with the CEO being Jewish it is easy to understand his decision.

The club therefore indefinitely suspended Anelka while an internal investigation started. This is where the unprofessional side of Nicolas Anelka came out to create havoc. After being given a set of conditions by West Brom , which if followed, would have seen Anelka rejoin training with the first team, yet he declined and decided to cut off any connection he has with a professional football club.

However, West Brom jump to the excuse of termination of contract due to Gross misconduct which will inevitably be appealed and settled in a tribunal. This whole situation appears to be a farce, with Anelka not apologising, he brings down the name of West Bromwich Albion Football Club and also by making such a scene out of the situation.

Announcing his decision via social media and also specifying how Lazio were interested in signing him throughout the January transfer window shows how much disregard he has of a contract. Not only the 13 million Jewish people throughout the world he could of offended with his actions, but he hasn’t even had the thought to apologise for his actions, but states every time that the whole situation was taken out of context.

Taken out of context or not, Nicolas Anelka must take responsibly for his actions and realise how much of a hateful gesture it can be to such a section of the world’s population that have already gone through so much throughout the last 150 years.

Such hate shouldn’t be a part of the sport. Sport has always been something that has brought people together, and I call for stronger punishments on players who involve themselves in such racism activity.

It has no place in society, let alone an international platform of sport.


Written by James Clark

Follow James on Twitter @JamesMRClark

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