| 7°C Dublin

Panel says no malice in Anelka 'quenelle'

Nicolas Anelka's 'quenelle' gesture did contain "a reference to anti-Semitism", according to the independent regulatory commission that imposed a five-match ban on the French striker.

However, the commission's written reasons state the three-man panel was not satisfied that Anelka intended to "express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle" when he made the salute as a goal celebration against West Ham on December 28.

The reasons also reveal that the Football Association had argued for a more severe sanction than the minimum five-match ban for the West Brom player.

Anelka and the FA have seven days in which to appeal but it is expected neither party will do so.

Anelka said he made the quenelle as a gesture of solidarity with Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, but denied he knew it had any anti-Semitic connotations.

The 34-year-old did, however, admit attending a Dieudonné performance in Paris that contained numerous anti-Jewish jokes.

In deciding on the five-match ban, the commission ruled against the FA's claim that the minimum sanction should only be given to those who had pleaded guilty, because no such clause is contained in their rules.


Chelsea's wing wizard Eden Hazard looks like being fit for the London derby with Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Saturday after injuring his ankle in midweek.

The Belgian international was hurt after coming on as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw with Ivory Coast in a friendly in Brussels on Wednesday.

"It hurt but I think I can play this weekend," Hazard said.

"After 20 seconds I got a kick. A nice welcome but I'm not worried about the injury."

Hazard has been instrumental in Chelsea's rise to the top of the Premier League, scoring 12 goals and proving a constant menace with his trickery on the wing. Spurs, 10 points behind, have a woeful record at Stamford Bridge, having not won there in 24 years.