West Brom forward Nicolas Anelka has received a five-match ban along with an £80,000 fine as punishment for his use of a quenelle gesture back in December. An Independent Regulatory Commission assigned by the English FA announced the decision on Thursday, though both the fine and suspension are on hold pending the player's right to appeal.
In addition Anelka has been ordered to complete a compulsory education course.
The IRC will apparently release a full written explanation of their decision in due course -- their words, not mine -- but did provide a summary of their ruling that explained the basis of their decision. Essentially they found him guilty of having made a gesture that violated the FA's rule concerning references to ethnic origins, race or religion.
a. In or around the 40th minute of the match he made a gesture (known as the ‘quenelle') which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3(1); and
b. That the misconduct was an "Aggravated Breach" as defined by FA Rule E3(2) in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.
Anelka denied the charges, but the IRC were unconvinced. The striker's options going forward are to either appeal the ruling or accept the judgment, serving the suspension and paying the fine.
The quenelle gesture was created by a French political activist in 2005 and is linked by authorities to antisemitism and extremism.