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On this day in 2013: Nicolas Anelka criticised over ‘quenelle’ goal celebration

Nicolas Anelka agreed not to perform his controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture again on this day 10 years ago.

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 Valerie Fourneyron accused him of making a “disgusting anti-Semitic” gesture.

West Brom responded, saying: “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.

A West Brom statement, issued two days after the West Ham game on December 30, 2013, read: “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.

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