Oh, Le Sulk, what are we going to do with you? You're good at soccer, even though your best days are behind you, and everyone was excited to see you score in the Premier League again, then you go and do something like this.
After scoring one of his two goals for West Bromwich Albion against West Ham United today, Anelka celebrated with the gesture pictured above, with 101GreatGoals providing this summary of the faux pas:
French, anti-semitic comedian, Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, popularised the gesture known to be a 'Nazi salute in reverse' and appears to have a fan in Nicolas Anelka.
Anelka only performed the celebration after the first goal but French media outlets have been widely reporting the anti-semitic gesture.
Now, who knows if Anelka was actually performing the gesture as an anti-semitic salute, or if it was a shoutout to his boy Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, or what. Either way, there are clearly some negative connotations to the gesture, so you'd have to be a great big idiot to perform it in a stadium full of people, with thousands and thousands more watching on television around the world, with cameras everywhere to catch it.
I can't imagine that Anelka intended anything anti-semitic with this, especially in a sport that has been trying to stamp out racial and other abuse from fans for years and years. The credibility of those campaigns would take a huge hit if a player decided to join them in saying "hey, I don't like [insert group here] either!" However, none of us know what Anelka's intentions were, and that's the problem.
Earlier this season, Arsenal's Jack Wilshere caught a ban from the English FA for flipping off some Manchester City fans during Arsenal's trip to the Etihad Stadium. Since Anelka's gesture was potentially far more offensive than Wilshere's, a ban from the FA could now be coming the way of Le Sulk, a ban that could cost West Brom their spot in the Premier League given that the Baggies are just two points clear of the relegation zone.