The undergrowth of English Football has dealt with plenty of notable cases in relation to racism over the past few years. The case of Anton Ferdinand and John Terry was well documented, and of course there was the instance of the England Under 21’s in Serbia. Yet the latest case in point, of Nicolas Anelka and the ‘Quenelle’ gesture, is the perfect opportunity for the Football Association to finally make a real proclamation of intent to take racism out of football for good.
Anelka, of West Bromwich Albion, and most notably of Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid, as well as a French International, whilst playing against West Ham at Upton Park on 28th December last year, celebrated his goal with a gesticulation that could be seen to have anti-Semitic connotations.
The gesture was notable with its connections to French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who states the semantics of the action were to act as a symbol of anti-establishment. Although, many see the gesture as a Nazi salute. What is for definite, however, is that this has already caused reflection from the Football Association, and could yet lead to a significant step to muting of racism within football.
Since the game at Upton Park, the F.A. have acted by imposing a fine, alongside a five game ban, and Anelka, 34, has been suspended from the midlands club, as a consequence. Similar to the incident with Luis Suarez back in 2011, the immediate action taken by the F.A. brings about sharpness; however, with similar lengthy bans initiated in the past, the occurrence at Upton Park over a month ago has brought about the aim to review its dealings with racism challenges.
Greg Dyke, F.A chairman, insisted “I think what we’ll do is look at the judgement and then we’ll ask those who deal with it: ‘Do you think that’s fair? Do we think we ought to change anything as a result of that?”
“We’ll look at the whole thing again once this one has been done,” Dyke also added.
Like most things, change is good. Without question, the long-term development in dealing with racism was something that needed to be brought into focus. Nicolas Anelka, it must be noted, was told by the F.A. panel that they felt he “hadn’t deliberately been anti-Semitic,” although the gesture could be looked at as indecent, and seemingly as though it referenced religion or belief. As a declaration of how meticulous the F.A. now want to move forward with their approach to racism, this may incur further repercussions in the French forward’s recent hearing, and a lengthier absence away from the game may be the result, which would certainly send a message out.
The decision as to whether Anelka’s ratification will be added upon will be made after the official reasoning behind the initial disciplinary is released, which will be issued this week.
The reaction of West Bromwich Albion’s sponsor Zoopla is also an affirmative answer to the F.A.’s ruling. The club and the sponsor will end its contract come the end of the season. This provides the kind of strict support to which the F.A. needs if it is to progress with its perseverance of eradicating racism. It is a demonstrative reply, coming from an organization that would undoubtedly see the deal with West Bromwich Albion as a major source of income, yet has chosen to back equality.
The level of debate that has risen from Anelka’s celebration could also be regarded in the light that now through worldwide discussion, racism is back in the media spotlight. The seeking of equality and removal of prejudice can be re-stressed and stared at again, to ensure that as a governing body, a difference is being made, to football, and to the country.
How can we start eliminating racism in sporting industries?