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Bad boy of French football at heart of more controversy


LONDON (AP) - Nicolas Anelka returned to the headlines. And - once again - the bad boy of French football grabbed the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

Anelka caused an outcry in his home country by celebrating a goal scored in the Premier League for his English club West Bromwich Albion on Saturday with a gesture viewed as being anti-Semitic and described by France's Sports Minister as "disgusting."

The scandal quickly widened as European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor asked the Premier League to ban Anelka. The Football Association is considering opening an investigation.

"This salute is merely a lesser known Nazi salute and we expect the same kind of punishment to be handed down by the authorities as if Anelka had made the infamous outstretched arm salute," Kantor said. "This salute was created by a well-known extreme anti-Semite who has displayed his hatred of Jews, mocked the Holocaust and Jewish suffering."

The gesture, known as a "quenelle" - a traditional French dish - is often performed by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala and described as an inverted Nazi salute. It involves pointing one straightened arm downward while touching that arm's shoulder with the opposite hand.

Anelka made the gesture after scoring the first of his two goals in a 3-3 draw at West Ham on Saturday. The former France international, whose career has been marred by controversy, has defended himself against the accusations, saying he was merely expressing his support for Dieudonne.

"There should be no room for such intolerance and racism in sports and we expect that the English Premier League officials as well as the police will give Anelka the appropriate punishment," Kantor said.

A stand-up comedian and political activist who has been repeatedly fined for racial insults, Dieudonne thanked Anelka for his support on his Facebook page.

Dieudonne, who has been frequently accused of anti-Semitism, is facing a possible ban of his public performances after French Interior Minister Manuel Valls vowed this week to examine all legal options that would put a stop to the comedian's shows.

Anelka, who had previously been photographed performing the salute, has been quiet since joining West Bromwich Albion but his first two goals this season were overshadowed by the scandal.

After two disappointing seasons at Shanghai Shenhua and Juventus, the 34-year-old striker got another chance in England, where he spent some of the best years of his career.

The former Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton and Chelsea player is one of the most talented and controversial players France has produced since former Manchester United great Eric Cantona.

After growing up in a Parisian suburb, Anelka started his career at Paris Saint-Germain and was quickly spotted by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who signed him in 1997.

Known for his immense technical skills, Anelka played a big part in the Gunners winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup but missed out on a place in the France team that won the 1998 World Cup.

Anelka's sometimes nonchalant attitude and apparent lack of commitment to the team started to anger the Arsenal fans, who gave him the nickname "Le Sulk." Anelka then joined Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League, before moving to PSG, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton.

The much-travelled Frenchman then struck up an electric partnership with Didier Drogba at Chelsea, winning the Premier League title and two FA Cups with the Blues.

Anelka caused the biggest controversy of his career with the French national team, when he was sent home from the 2010 World Cup after insulting then-coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing room. His reputation reached its nadir, but the stubborn Anelka refused to apologize and ended his international career in the wake of the scandal with 14 goals in 69 appearances.

On Saturday, West Brom coach Keith Downing said the former France international was "totally surprised" by the reaction to the gesture.

"It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well," Downing said of Anelka's celebration. "He uses it in his act and I think speculation (that it is anti-Semitic) can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really."

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mstienlee December 30 2013 at 3:07 AM

Why is everyone so shocked? This is the FRENCH. French are the sell outs to the German Nazis during WWII and they actually believed they would be spared from the Nazis for being cowards and traitors!!!

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1 reply to mstienlee's comment
Glass Company December 30 2013 at 7:50 AM

like like like LIKE!!!

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soccerbob1152 December 30 2013 at 2:22 AM

and he'll cry and complain if someone uses the "N" word

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Glass Company December 30 2013 at 7:50 AM

SO TRUE!!

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addiorch December 30 2013 at 1:24 AM

Nothing to do with Nazis is DIEUDONNE M'Bala M'bala gesture…...

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dmoriah December 30 2013 at 1:17 AM

As has been stated, does this moron understand that dark skinned people were considered the same "human filth" by the nazis as they did the jews, and similarly exterminated people like him?

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mstienlee December 30 2013 at 3:04 AM

Not only is he dark skinned but he is also mentally retarded. The Nazis would have exterminated his kind long before they would even touch the Jews.

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itsmegp46 December 30 2013 at 1:11 AM

It is interesting how this guy adopted a Nazi hand gesture. I doubt he's read too much about Adolph Hitler and Nazism. It is those same white supremecists who use the phrase mud races.

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lowtechknowtech December 30 2013 at 12:18 AM

Jewish folk are seemingly out and about with binoculars and microscopes to see, if they can discover anyone making any gesture that could be perceived as anti-semitic, all while continuing to invade, occupy and develop lands where less fortunate Palestinians live.

They are like The Princess on the Pea, who, according to the old fairy-tale, could still feel the pea in her bed, even after multiple mattresses had been placed on it. They know and we know, that this soccer player would never make it into a Nazi sport-team, because of his color. His gestures can only be seen because we have long lenses trained on the guy.

If Jews were great enough to simply shrug all this off as the bad habits of an imbecile, all would be fine. But no, they persistently insist on making a big f***ing stink out of anything, thus generating ever more hate for them. Grow up, show that you're bigger than this guy is by ignoring him.

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4 replies to lowtechknowtech's comment
mascmibtm December 30 2013 at 12:05 AM

Games games games'
He knew what he did and ofcourse could care less masked it ofcourse
karma tends to fire back down the road

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bluirsheyes December 29 2013 at 11:56 PM

KARMA - come and get your boy! Innocent gesture? No worries!
Not so innocent? Karma? Aim for the arms!!!!!!!

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DANTHALER December 29 2013 at 11:41 PM

France is too good for the USA, NOW. I can't wait for the USA to improve enough to beat their team. hopefully in the quarter finals or something. We'll get em.

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phonejack1 December 30 2013 at 2:20 AM

i don't think the usa actly cares about socker that much ahhaah

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fwhamill December 29 2013 at 11:20 PM

Does this idiot know that Hitler gassed black people. Inferior, you know. According to Hitler only the aryian race should have been allowed to multiply. Is this guy going to step into the gas chamber on his own volition? J.C. Murphy. God almighty.

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madlyfem December 30 2013 at 1:05 AM

I think it likely he does know.

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ahsaki2 December 30 2013 at 1:42 AM

He's probably one of those Muslim anti-semites, and thinks that somehow, being Islamic exempts him from being classified as one of the groups Hitler hated. I don't know this for sure, though. i wouldn't want to be as ignorant as "Anelka" apparently is.

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