LONDON: Nicolas Anelka’s claim of injured innocence over his quenelle gesture has suffered a major setback after the French comedian who promoted it was banned today from entering the United Kingdom.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala had said he would visit the West Bromwich Albion striker, who faces a ban for performing the gesture – described by some as an ‘inverted Nazi salute’ when celebrating a goal against West Ham in December.
This will not now be possible since the Home Office has barrehim from entering the country in lin with its policy aganst individuals if there were “public policy or public security reasons”.
Anelka, 34, has been charged by the FA for performing the gesture and faces a minimum five-match ban if found guilty of an “abusive” sign. He has denied the charge and requested a personal hearing.
Anelka claimed his action was designed purely as a show of support for Dieudonne and suggested the salute could be perceived as “anti-establishment”, rather than discriminatory.
However, Dieudonne has been convicted six times of hate speech against Jews and several of his shows were banned in France last month amid fears his portrayal of Jews and mocking of the Holocaust were a risk to public order.
He rewrote the shows, dropping much of the material deemed offensive, but fans and civil liberties campaigners accused the French government of censorship and attacking free speech.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls wants Dieudonne kept off all stages in France, condemning the comic’s “mechanics of hate”.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “We can confirm that Mr Dieudonne is subject to an exclusion order.
“The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual from the UK if she considers that there are public policy or public security reasons to do so.”
Anelka has insisted that he is “neither anti-Semitic nor racist” and West Bromwich have said they it will keep the former Arsenal and Real Madrid player available for selection until the hearing, but has asked him not to repeat the celebration.
Anelka was charged by the FA with making a gesture that was “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper”.
The FA added that it was “an aggravated breach in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief”.