Report: Soccer Club Sponsor Delivers Ultimatum Over Anelka ‘Reverse Nazi Salute’
The shirt sponsor of British soccer club West Bromwich Albion (WBA) has threatened to immediately axe its multi-million pound deal with the club over the growing furor surrounding one of its star players, who recently used a quenelle “reverse Nazi salute” after scoring a goal, the UK’s Marketing Week reported.
Zoopla, an online property portal, which is concerned that its brand is being tarnished, reportedly told WBA that if the offending player, Nicolas Anelka, plays in an upcoming match against Everton on Monday its threat will go into immediate effect. Zoopla is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman.
The move is especially significant as Britain’s Football Association has been accused of dragging its feet in an investigation into Anelka’s use of the salute, which took place on December 28th during a match against West Ham. The FA said it has appointed an unnamed “expert” to aid in the investigation, and will have no comment until January 20th at the earliest. Anelka faces a minimum five-match ban from the FA, according to the UK’s Daily Mirror.
Anelka, who has converted to Islam, has denied that the salute is anti-Semitic and he was backed by his club, although they did acknowledge that it was offensive and the French striker pledged not to use the salute again.
Despite Zoopla’s threat however, Marketing Week reported that according to a source, WBA is unlikely to drop Anelka for its upcoming match as “the club is not prepared to let sponsors dictate its team selection.”
“West Brom are believed to have already made early inquires into securing a temporary sponsor for the remainder of the season should Zoopla act on its threat,” Marketing Week said.
A spokesman for the club said: “West Bromwich Albion will be making no further comment until the Football Association has concluded its investigation, and the club its own internal enquiry, into the matter.” Zoopla did not respond to Marketing Week‘s request for comment.
The quenelle gesture used by Anelka, was created by French anti-Semitic comedian, Dieudonné, and has been used by his followers in front of Nazi concentration camps, synagogues and even when standing beside unsuspecting Jews.
At the time, France’s Minister for Sport, Valerie Fourneyron, tweeted that, “Anelka’s gesture is a shocking and disgusting provocation. Anti-semitism or incitement to hatred has no place on the football field.”
“It’s the Nazi salute in reverse,” Roger Cukierman, head of the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organizations, said recently. “Very clearly, Mr Dieudonné is developing a nearly professional anti-Semitism under the cover of telling jokes.”