West Brom’s Nicolas Anelka has promised not to repeat the controversial goal celebration which has led to the FA opening an investigation into the striker.
Anelka said the ‘quenelle’ hand gesture was “just a special dedication” to French comedian Dieudonne, but it drew widespread criticism in France where it is seen as an anti-semitic statement.
The forward could face a minimum five-match ban if found guilty of racist/religious abuse.
French minister for sport Valerie Fourneyron condemned the action on Twitter, saying: "Anelka's gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting. There's no place for anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred on the football field."
Anelka refuted those comments, tweeting “"Of course, I am neither racist nor anti-Semitic and I fully assume (responsibility for) my gesture."
"The meaning of quenelle is anti-system. I do not know what religion has to do with this story."
"With regard to the ministers who give their own interpretations of my quenelle, they are the ones that create confusion and controversy without knowing what it really means. I ask people not to be duped by the media."
An official statement from West Brom today said: "Nicolas was asked to explain his goal celebration by Caretaker Head Coach, Keith Downing, within minutes of the game finishing at West Ham.
"Nicolas said that he performed the gesture to dedicate his goal to a friend and vehemently denied having any intention to cause offence.
“Upon reporting for training this morning, Nicolas was asked by Sporting & Technical Director Richard Garlick to give a full explanation about his goal celebration, during which he again strongly denied intending to cause offence.
“The Club fully acknowledges that Nicolas’ goal celebration has caused offence in some quarters and has asked Nicolas not to perform the gesture again. Nicolas immediately agreed to adhere to this request.
"The meaning of quenelle is anti-system. I do not know what religion has to do with this story." - Nicolas Anelka
“The Club is aware that The Football Association is investigating the matter and has offered its full co-operation. The Club will continue to make its own enquiries – a process which will remain confidential between the Club and Nicolas.
“Nicolas is eligible for matches whilst The FA carries out its investigation. Therefore, Nicolas will remain under consideration for first-team selection whilst The FA and Club continue their enquiries.”