- Premier League
Anelka charged over 'quenelle' gesture
West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has been charged by the FA for his controversial quenelle goal celebration, and could face a five-match ban.
Anelka was under investigation by the Football Association after his celebration, which has been described as anti-Semitic by Jewish organisations, while the club will lose their sponsorship deal with Zoopla at the end of the season because of the incident.
A statement on the FA website read: "The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013.
"It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3. It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."
Anelka has until 6pm on Thursday, January 23 to respond to the charge.
There had been pressure on West Brom to drop Anelka, but new coach Pepe Mel fielded the striker in his first match in charge - a 1-1 draw with Everton on Monday night - and stood by him with his comments after the match.
"For me, Nicolas is a very good professional and a very good person. I need Nicolas in the team," stated Mel. "I spoke to him yesterday and asked him if he was ready to play and he said he was. My obligation is to think about football and the best interests of West Bromwich Albion.
"If he is suspended [by the FA] then I won't be able to play him, but at the club we must just think about winning matches."
Anelka himself tweeted his thanks to West Brom fans for their support:
Big thanks to @WBAFCofficial for the support on this story & also to the West Bromwich fans who were magnificent tonight— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) January 21, 2014