Nicolas Anelka's “quenelle” gesture is “strongly associated with anti-Semitism,” according to the Football Association’s independent regulatory commission that imposed a five-match ban on the striker.
However, the commission's written reasons state the three-man panel was not satisfied that Anelka, 34, intended to “express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the ‘quenelle’” when he made the gesture as a goal celebration against West Ham on Dec. 28.
The reasons also reveal that the FA had argued for a more severe sanction than the minimum five-match ban.
The commission said Anelka's “quenelle” “did contain a reference to anti-Semitism” in that it is strongly associated with his friend, the French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala.
“We further concluded that Dieudonne is strongly associated with anti-Semitism and, as a result, we found that the ‘quenelle’ is strongly associated with anti- Semitism," said the commission. “We agreed with the FA that it is not possible to divorce that association from the gesture.
“When Nicolas Anelka performed the ‘quenelle’ on Dec. 28, 2013, it had that association; it was strongly associated with and contained a reference to anti-Semitism.''
It also compared the case with Luis Suarez's eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, and pointed out the Liverpool striker did so on at least five occasions while Anelka's was a one-off action.
John Terry's four-match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand was also looked at by the commission.
It added: “[Suarez's] eight-match suspension was imposed for conduct with five identified aggravating factors including the repeated use of the word ‘negro’ or ‘negros.’
“In our view that was clearly a more serious example of an 'Aggravated Breach' than the [Anelka] instant case. Similarly, when Terry was decided there was no mandatory entry point; He was suspended for four matches for insulting [once] an opponent.”