Monday 22 January 2018

Anelka: I'm leaving Baggies now

Nicolas Anelka says he will leave West Brom following the fall-out over his 'quenelle' goal celebration
Nicolas Anelka says he will leave West Brom following the fall-out over his 'quenelle' goal celebration

Nicolas Anelka has announced he will tear up his contract with West Brom and leave the club over the fall-out from his infamous 'quenelle' goal celebration.

Anelka is on Saturday due to begin a five-match ban imposed for making the gesture, which has anti-Semitic links, after scoring against West Ham on December 28. An independent regulatory commission accepted there was no intent by Anelka to be anti-Semitic.

His club opted not to appeal against the sanction and after holding talks with his employers, the former France striker wrote on Twitter: "I have taken the decision to free myself and put an end to the contract linking me with West Bromwich Albion."

Anelka claims he made the gesture in support of his friend Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, a French comedian who has been convicted seven times of anti-Semitic crimes.

Following the incident, Anelka started all four of Albion's Premier League games in January but he has not featured since and is banned for the upcoming trips to Swansea, Hull and Norwich as well as home games against Cardiff and Tottenham.

Over the course of three posts written in French on his official Twitter account, Anelka wrote: "Following talks between the club and me, propositions were made to me in order to reintegrate me into the squad under certain conditions that I cannot accept.

"Wishing to retain my integrity, I have therefore taken the decision to free myself and put an end to the contract linking me with West Bromwich Albion to 2014, with immediate effect."

West Brom were not immediately available to respond to Anelka's comments.

Anelka's grievance with the club has come to light just a day after they were criticised by the equality group Kick It Out, who also urged the Football Association to double the five-match minimum ban for racist or discriminatory offences.

The FA confirmed on Thursday that neither party would appeal against the length of Anelka's ban, with director of governance Darren Bailey explaining: "We do not consider there is a real prospect of successfully appealing to extend the sanction imposed.

"The grounds of appeal available to us are limited to legal challenges or to circumstances in which the sanction imposed is 'so unduly lenient as to be unreasonable'. That is a high test."

A Kick It Out statement in response read: "Kick It Out finds it difficult to reconcile the sanctions imposed and conclusions reached by the (independent regulatory) commission.

"There are many ambiguities that are not easily reconcilable with the final outcome. For instance, Anelka has attended one of Dieudonne's live performances and admits to being a friend of his, and to claim that he does not understand the anti-Semitic connotations of the quenelle is beyond feasibility.

"Kick It Out urges the FA to review its anti-discrimination regulations and increase its minimum ban for players found guilty of discriminatory acts to 10 matches, in line with UEFA, so as to provide a much more meaningful deterrent to deal with potential offences.

"His employer West Bromwich Albion should have exercised its leadership as a community institution to apologise for the offence caused and deal with the matter in accordance with its disciplinary procedures."

West Brom said they had received no formal notification of Anelka's wish to leave immediately.

The midlands club said in a statement on Friday evening: "The club confirms it has been continuing discussions with Nicolas Anelka and his advisers as part of its own internal enquiry into the gesture he made after scoring against West Ham United on December 28.

"Following the conclusion of the FA's enquiry into the same incident, the club had hoped to conclude its own investigations next week.

"The club notes Nicolas Anelka's comments on Twitter this evening. However, the club has received nothing formally regarding the termination of Nicolas Anelka's contract from either him or his advisers.

"The club regards the release of such a statement on social media as highly unprofessional and will make a further statement when appropriate."

Press Association

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