West Bromwich striker Nicolas Anelka could face a five-match ban with the Football Association intending to examine his controversial gesture in the 3-3 draw with West Ham.
Anelka scored twice during the match at Upton Park, his first start for two months, but his display has been overshadowed by claims he performed a ‘quenelle’ salute when celebrating his first.
The gesture, which was made famous by French comedian, and close friend of Anelka’s, Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, has been linked to anti-Semitism with Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), describing it as “the Nazi salute in reverse”.
However, Anelka has defended his actions, taking to Twitter to explain the gesture as nothing more than support for his friend.
“This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné,” Anelka tweeted.
This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné
— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) December 28, 2013
But the FA may take a different view with the former France international facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines should he be found guilty of a racial abuse under tough new rules brought in last May.
Under the strict sanctions, players found guilty of racist and homophobic abuse will receive a five-match ban for their first offence, a 10-match ban for their second offence with all guilty players needing to attend educational programs.
The new rules come after a review of sanctions following the high-profile cases which saw John Terry banned for four matches and Luis Suarez for eight games for racist abuse on the pitch.
However, West Brom head coach Keith Downing said the allegations against Anelka were “absolute rubbish”.
“I'm aware of it but it has got nothing to do with what is being said,” Downing said when asked about the gesture. “It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well. He uses it in his act and I think speculation can be stopped now -- it is absolute rubbish really.
“He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around. He is totally surprised by it.”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.