West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka charged by FA over 'quenelle' gesture
West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka charged by FA over 'quenelle' gestureReuters

Nicolas Anelka is set to be charged by the Football Association for making an offensive anti-semetic gesture during a match.

The move by the game's governing body comes nearly a month after the 34-year-old made the controversial 'quenelle' arm sign during West Brom's Premier League clash with West Ham Utd.

If found guilty, Anelka could face a lengthy ban from playing during a crunch stage of the season for his club, with a new manager at the helm and survival in the top divsion by no means assured.

Outcry followed Anelka's action, which carries an anti-semetic meaning and was coined by a French comedian. It resembles an inverted Seig Heil, as used by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler.

Albion's shirt sponsor, the property film Zoopla - which is owned by a Jewish businessman - announced it would drop its association with the club over the incident, after its demand for Anelka to be dropped was rejected.

Anelka claimed he made the gesture merely as a sign of support for his friend, comedian Dieudinne M'Bala-M'Bala, who created it. In France, M'Bala-M'Bala's live shows were banned following a personal intervention by President Francois Hollande.

Announcing its intention to charge Anelka with making an abusive or insulting gesture, the FA said: "The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013.

"It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3[1].

"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3[2], in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."

Anelka has until Thursday evening to respond to the charge.