PRESSURE groups have called for Nicolas Anelka to face significantly more than the minimum five-match ban after the striker was charged by the Football Association over alleged anti-Semitism.
The West Brom forward is considering his options after being charged with an aggravated offence by the English FA over his controversial 'quenelle' goal celebration. 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 of support and aimed at the French establishment.
Anelka has denied the salute was anti-Semitic, but Jewish groups say if the charge is proved then his lack of contrition should lead to a more severe sanction than the five-match ban introduced by the FA for aggravated offences.
Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust, which advises the Jewish community on security and anti-Semitism, said the FA should throw the book at Anelka.
"Anelka has introduced a very ugly phenomenon into British football. Anelka's action risks the 'quenelle' being taken up by actual anti-Semites and used against British Jews: as it has been in France and elsewhere."
Anelka has agreed not to perform the salute again after the club accepted it had caused some offence, but the player has not yet apologised for the incident.
West Brom said Anelka would remain available for selection until the FA concludes their disciplinary process.
The club's shirt sponsor Zoopla, an online property search engine which is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterton, said on Monday it would not be renewing its deal at the end of the season because of the incident.
Meanwhile, Anelka has received support from Everton striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgium international played against Anelka in Monday's 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.
Speaking before details of the FA charge were announced, Lukaku said: "He was my idol as a kid and he still is."
His interview on Everton's website has since been removed.