UK Soccer Star Cleared Over Nazi Salute After Disciplinary Committee Deplores His ‘Lamentable Ignorance’ of WW2
British soccer star Wayne Hennessey has been cleared by the game’s governing body of causing offense with a Nazi-style salute — after a disciplinary panel established that the goalkeeper knew absolutely nothing about the history of the Second World War.
Hennessey — the first-choice keeper for Premier League side Crystal Palace and the Wales men’s national team — was photographed with his right arm raised and his left hand over his top lip. The photo was snapped at a team party and posted on Instagram following a Crystal Palace victory in the FA Cup competition in January.
Explaining the decision, the regulatory commission of the Football Association revealed that Hennessey had shown a “lamentable degree of ignorance” about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis when questioned.
The charge was found not proven after two members of the three-man panel believed the photograph had been “misinterpreted” and the other said the “only plausible explanation” was that Hennessey made the salute.
Hennessey denied the charge and said any resemblance to the Nazi gesture was “absolutely coincidental.” He said he had “waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it” and “put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry.”
The goalkeeper had admitted “from the outset” of the hearing that he did not know what a Nazi salute was.
“Improbable as that may seem to those of us of an older generation, we do not reject that assertion as untrue,” said the panel.
It continued: “In fact, when cross-examined about this Mr Hennessey displayed a very considerable — one might even say lamentable — degree of ignorance about anything to do with Hitler, Fascism and the Nazi regime.”
The panel added that “regrettable though it may be that anyone should be unaware of so important a part of our own and world history, we do not feel we should therefore find he was not telling the truth about this.”
The panel ended with some advice. “All we would say (at the risk of sounding patronizing) is that Mr Hennessey would be well advised to familiarize himself with events which continue to have great significance to those who live in a free country,” it noted.