West Brom Sponsor Zoopla Insists That Anelka Play Without Their Logo; To Withdraw Sponsorship End of Season
by Joshua Levitt
The sponsor of British soccer team West Bromwich, part Jewish-owned property site Zoopla, has insisted that if the team fields Nicolas Anelka in a game against Everton on Monday night, it should do so without their logo on his shirt, Ireland’s Independent reported on Monday. The UK’s Telegraph, via Twitter, said that Zoopla has decided not to renew its sponsorship of the club at the end of the season because of the controversy surrounding Anelka’s use of the quenelle “reverse Nazi salute.”
Zoopla is upset because of the negative publicity surrounding Anelka’s refusal to apologize for making the quenelle salute that many Jews see as being anti-Semitic. The Football Association is expected on Tuesday to report its ruling on the incident, which took place at a game on December 28.
Zoopla is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, who had first asked the team to consider benching Anelka due to the salute and his refusal to apologize, and threatened to withdraw its financial support. The removal of its logo seemed to be a compromise that would allow Anelka to play, while giving Zoopla the feeling that its concerns are being addressed. The decision to end the sponsorship at the end of season comes after weeks of bad publicity for the team, the FA, and, by association, Zoopla.
The UK Daily Mail reported on Monday that the team leadership discussed the situation over the weekend and determined to continue with their policy, agreed on two days after the salute – to play Anelka until the FA rules otherwise.
When confronted about the controversial quenelle, referred to internationally as a “reverse Nazi salute,” Anelka said he performed it in solidarity with its creator, French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who has been brought to trial in France eight times for hate speech.
Dieudonné also created new French words, including Shoannanas – a combination of Shoah, the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, and the French word for pineapple, designed to be as offensive as possible to Jews, without triggering tough French anti-hate speech laws.
In the past month, the French government, pressured local cities to ban his new traveling show, effectively putting him out of business in France and forcing him to cancel the tour.