FA opts not to appeal for longer Nicolas Anelka ban over goal gesture

• Anelka's ban not 'so unduly lenient as to be unreasonable'
• West Brom striker banned for five games for making quenelle

Neither the Football Association nor Nicolas Anelka will challenge the five-match ban imposed on the West Bromwich Albion striker for the quenelle gesture he made after scoring against West Ham United on Boxing Day.

The Guardian revealed last week that the FA was unlikely to appeal against the decision, despite having pushed the three-man independent panel that heard the case for a stronger sanction. The FA's director of regulatory affairs, Darren Bailey, explained that the governing body would have had to show the punishment was "so unduly lenient as to be unreasonable" in order to appeal.

"Prior to the FA charging Mr Anelka, we understand that no other sports regulatory or prosecutorial body in the world had sought to tackle this gesture and the complex ambiguities of its meaning," Bailey said. "We accept that, even though we are a sports governing body, the extent of public interest in what we do means that we are sometimes required to be in the vanguard of anti-discriminatory and disciplinary action of this type. Our response demonstrates that we are prepared to act decisively and expeditiously in addressing these matters head-on."

The panel's full report left little room for ambiguity over the link between Anelka's quenelle gesture and antisemitism but stops short of saying he intended the action as antisemitic. The striker had argued the gesture was a symbol of support for a friend, the controversial comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala.

The anti-racism group Kick It Out said people would be perplexed by the FA's decision not to appeal and has urged it to double its minimum ban for racist offences from five matches to 10, in line with Uefa, "so as to provide a much more meaningful deterrent to deal with potential offences".

It said in a statement: "Kick It Out finds it difficult to reconcile the sanctions imposed and conclusions reached by the commission. There are many ambiguities that are not easily reconcilable with the final outcome. For instance, Anelka has attended one of Dieudonné's live performances and admits to being a friend of his, and to claim that he does not understand the antisemitic connotations of the quenelle is beyond feasibility.

"The FA provided a hard body of evidence, complemented by in-depth research into the quenelle by an appointed expert, to justify a stronger ban than its five-match minimum. People will be perplexed as to why it has not been challenged considering they were clearly seeking a sanction which was quite different.

"Kick It Out urges the FA to review its anti-discrimination regulations and increase its minimum ban for players found guilty of discriminatory acts to 10 matches, in line with Uefa, so as to provide a much more meaningful deterrent to deal with potential offences."

It also criticised West Brom for its handling of the issue. "It was clear from the outset of this incident that Anelka's conduct caused great offence to many people, both within the Jewish community and the wider public," a statement said.

"His employer West Bromwich Albion should have exercised its leadership as a community institution to apologise for the offence caused and deal with the matter in accordance with its disciplinary procedures." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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