FA charge Anelka: CST response

21 Jan 2014 by CST

CST welcomes the Football Association's decision to charge Nicolas Anelka with an aggravated breach of FA rules. We simply could not have accepted any other outcome. The FA has a zero tolerance approach to racism and that must, therefore, include antisemitism.

Nobody disputes that Anelka made the 'quenelle' action. Anelka himself says that it was for his friend Dieudonne, with whom it is inextricably linked.

Nobody seriously disputes that Dieudonne is antisemitic: the man has a string of convictions for antisemitic offences. Anelka's goal celebration came on 28th December. In November, Dieudonne had been fined 28,000 Euros for a song mocking the Holocaust. (See a shocking example of that on previous CST Blog, here.) Then, on 20th December, new legal proceedings were launched against Dieudonne after he said a French Jewish journalist made him think of "the gas ovens".

French Jews face severe probelms with antisemitism, ranging from abuse (such as Dieudonne's) to cold-blooded terrorism. Thousands of French Jews have left France in recent years. The French Government and the French Jewish Community are using Dieudonne as a means of making a stand against this situation. To be clear, antisemitism in France is not the responsibility of the English FA: but this is the other context in which Anelka's 'quenelle' and Dieudonne support occurs.

Nicolas Anelka says he is not an antisemite. CST is happy to accept this, but given the above contexts, Anelka's understanding of the 'quenelle', of Dieudonne and of antisemitism is not especially relevant. This is not an on-field baiting between one player and another. Rather, Anelka has introduced a very ugly phenomenon into British football. Anelka's action risks the 'quenelle' being taken up by actual antisemites and used against British Jews: as it has been in France and elsewhere. The FA should throw the book at him.

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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights