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English Premiership

FA could increase Anelka ban

ANELKA-QUENELLELONDON, March 1 – West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka’s five-game ban for performing a controversial ‘quenelle’ salute could be increased, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said on Saturday.

Anelka was given the suspension, as well as an £80,000 (97,00 euros, $133,000) fine, on Thursday after making the gesture during his side’s 3-3 draw at West Ham United in the Premier League in December.

The punishment was imposed by an independent regulatory commission, which will inform the FA of the reasons for its decision in writing on Monday.

Dyke said that the FA’s own disciplinary committee could decide to extend Anelka’s suspension, while the player himself can also appeal against the decision.

“We are all waiting until Monday to see what the judgement was,” Dyke told British media outlets following an International FA Board meeting in Zurich.

“This is an evidence-based inquiry and what did Mr Anelka say and what was the basis for the decision — we will see that on Monday. Any appeal will be decided by others on Monday, not by me. It is a possibility.

“We will look at the whole thing again once this one has been done. This was not an easy case, because for most people in England that sign (the quenelle) meant nothing.

“It’s only what it meant in France that became important, so we will look at the judgement and will ask people do we think that’s fair or should we change anything as a result of that.”

The ‘quenelle’ salute — one arm across the chest, the other straightened — was popularised by French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a friend of Anelka’s who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism in his homeland.

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Anelka has insisted that he is “neither racist nor anti-Semite”, but despite finding that he had not promoted anti-Semitism, the FA decided that he was guilty of an “aggravated breach” of its rules.

Under new regulations that came into effect in English football this season, racist or discriminatory offences carry a minimum five-game suspension.

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