Jan 21, 2014, 7:16 AM EDT
Nicolas Anelka will miss at least five matches for West Bromwich Albion unless he comes up with a strong defense for his ‘quenelle’ salute, as the French striker was officially charged by the FA on Monday.
Facing a controversy notable not merely for the gesture’s racist connotations but also the way both West Brom and the FA have handled it, Anelka has until Thursday to respond to the charge.
The fallout has been widespread, and team shirt sponsor Zoopla has announced they’ll step away from doing business with the team at the end of the year. Meanwhile, everyone from anti-racist organizations to West Brom board members themselves are speaking out on the issue.
The FA called the quenelle “an aggravated breach in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
Groups like Kick It Out have taken shots at the FA for their speed in addressing the issue, while at least one has supported them in indicating trust that they’ll properly take care of the issue.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports has this in-house quote from The Hawthorns:
Alan Cleverley, secretary of the West Bromwich Albion Official Supporters’ Club, said if Anelka is found guilty by the FA, he “deserves everything he gets”.
He added: “You can’t go on doing that. It sounds as if he did it on purpose because he knew the match was being shown live in France. So if the book gets thrown at him, I’ve got no sympathy whatsoever for him.”
Anelka played in the Baggies 1-1 draw versus Everton on Monday (pictured above). West Brom’s next five matches are away to Aston Villa, home to Liverpool, away to Crystal Palace and then home to Chelsea and Fulham.
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