London: The Football Association (FA) charged Nicolas Anelka on Tuesday for making a “quenelle” salute after scoring for West Bromwich Albion against West Ham United in the Premier League last month.
The gesture is widely regarded as being anti-Semitic and the FA charged the former France international under Rule E3 for “making an abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper gesture”.
“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,” the FA said in a statement.
Anelka, 34, who has denied he used it in any derogatory way, has until Thursday to respond to the charge which carries a minimum five-game ban.
West Brom said the player had received a 34-page document explaining the allegations against him.
“Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until the FA’s disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this the club will conclude its own internal enquiry,” West Brom said in a statement.
Meanwhile, West Brom marked Spaniard Pepe Mel’s first home game in charge by retrieving a one-goal deficit to draw 1-1 with Everton in the Premier League on Monday.
Former Real Betis manager Mel, who picked Nicolas Anelka despite the row, watched his side go behind in the 41st minute.
Romelu Lukaku headed the ball down just outside the penalty box for fellow Belgian Kevin Mirallas and the winger ran on to beat West Brom ’keeper Ben Foster.
Uruguayan Diego Lugano equalised for the hosts in the 75th minute with a near-post header following a right wing cross by James Morrison.
Everton thought they had grabbed the winner with the final kick of the game but defender Sylvain Distin was ruled offside after touching in Gareth Barry’s shot from close range.
The draw lifted West Brom from 14th to 13th in the table while Everton stayed in sixth position, nine points adrift of leaders Arsenal with 16 games remaining.