The FA, Anelka and the Quenelle

Published 22 January 2014 By: Daniel Geey

Nicholas Anelka of France

The Football Association (the FA) announced on the 21st January 2014 that they have charged Nicolas Anelka with making an abusive, indecent, insulting or improper gesture contrary to their rules.

This blog briefly sets out the background to the Anelka gesture and the next steps in the FA disciplinary procedure.



Frenchman Anelka, celebrated the first of his goals in the 3-3 draw with West Ham on 28 December by making the below gesture known as the ‘quenelle’. It is made by touching the right shoulder with the left hand and keeping the right arm pointed downwards. Before this gesture was made, it was almost unheard of in the UK. For background and context on the gesture and its origins click here and here.

Anelka at the time justified the sign as “just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonne”. The problem that many (including the French government) have with Dieudonne relates to his controversial shows previously banned because of its anti-semetic content. Anelka has denied there being any racist intent behind his celebration though Diedonne has previously been found guilty making anti-Semitic speeches in France.


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Daniel Geey

Daniel Geey

Daniel is a Partner in the Sport Group.

Daniel’s practice focuses on helping clients in the sports sector, including rights holders, leagues, governing bodies, clubs, agencies, athletes, sports technology companies, broadcasters and financial institutions.

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