Anelka 'backer' criticises French striker
Published 23/01/2014 | 10:39
Nicolas Anelka's hopes of pointing to the support of a prominent member of the French Jewish community in a bid to clear his name have received another blow.
West Brom striker Anelka is facing a minimum five-match ban for his 'quenelle' salute, unless he can prove his case, after being charged by the Football Association with performing the allegedly anti-Semitic gesture after scoring against West Ham on December 28.
The 34-year-old has until 6pm on Thursday to formally reply to the charge, which he appears certain to contest as he insists he is neither anti-Semitic nor racist.
Anelka, however, believed he had the backing of a Jewish community leader in the battle to clear his name.
Roger Cukierman, the president of CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France), initially appeared to side with Anelka in an interview with Le Figaro.
The quenelle has been described as an inverted Nazi salute and was created by French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism.
Anelka is a friend of Dieudonne's, and the player has insisted his salute was a gesture aimed at the French establishment.
Cukierman said in a video interview with Le Figaro the quenelle could not be regarded as anti-Semitic in the context it was performed in.
That prompted Anelka to write in a statement on his Facebook page: "I therefore ask the English FA to kindly remove the charge made against me. And I repeat, I am not anti-Semitic or racist."
In the video, Cukierman said the gesture only had anti-Semitic connotations if made in front of a synagogue or a memorial to the Holocaust.
But in a statement on the CRIF website, Cukierman has clarified his earlier views, and made clear Anelka's actions were disappointing.
"The 'quenelle' is a Nazi salute reversed, there's no doubt in my mind because this is the will of the one who created and popularised it for purely ideological ends," said Cukierman.
"My statements in Le Figaro are no denial or renunciation on this subject, despite the interpretations that were made.
"However, I wished, perhaps too quickly, to demonstrate that it was important to show discernment, restraint, to avoid being drawn into a spiral that was difficult to control.
"It is clear the gesture of the 'quenelle' has dangerously spread among our citizens and especially youth.
"They don't realise the severity and scope. They are doing this gesture for provocation rather than anti-Semitism, at least I hope so.
"Should we be hard on them? Definitely, as it glorifies crime against humanity, but we must also teach the youth who are manipulated by Dieudonne and his followers.
"It is up to teachers to do that, but also public figures from the worlds of culture and sport.
"This is why I was disappointed with the attitude of Anelka whose behaviour is the opposite of what a top athlete must show the youth of our country.
"I was troubled by the fact the public man he is - a symbol for some of the youth of our country and so must therefore be perfect in his behaviour - can make this gesture 'to show his friendship to his friend Dieudonne', whose motivations are without a doubt anti-Semitic."