Nicolas Anelka pledges to quell his quenelle celebration

Other players seen making gesture say they were not aware of its connotations

West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka, left, has sparked outrage in France with a goal celebration that reportedly has anti-Semitic connotations. Ian Kington / AFP
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Nicolas Anelka has agreed not to perform his controversial “quenelle” goal celebration again, according to a statement released by his club West Bromwich Albion.

The French striker has denied that the salute had anti-Semitic connotations, but he caused a storm in his native France by the gesture during the 3-3 draw with West Ham United on Saturday.

West Brom say they accept that the celebration has caused some offence and that Anelka has been asked to refrain from displaying it again – and that he has agreed to do so.

A club statement on Monday said: “The club fully acknowledges that Nicolas’s 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 quenelle salute was made famous by the French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism.

Valerie Fourneyron, the French minister for sport, also condemned the gesture as “shocking” and “disgusting”.

Anelka, 34, has stated on Twitter that it was nothing more than a “special dedication” to his friend Dieudonne.

The English Football Association is continuing to investigate, and West Brom are pursuing their own inquiries.

The West Brom statement added: “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 the sporting and technical director Richard Garlick to provide a full explanation about his goal celebration, during which he again strongly denied intending to cause offence.

“The club is aware that the Football Association is investigating the matter and has offered its full cooperation. The club will also continue to make its own inquiries – 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.”

Pictures have also emerged of two other French players, Samir Nasri and Mamadou Sakho, performing the gesture.

The photograph of the Manchester City playmaker Nasri was taken outside the club’s Carrington training base and is thought to date to November.

It is believed that Nasri was unaware of the anti-Semitic or political connotations of the gesture and did it because of its popularity in France.

Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, refused to comment on the matter when asked at a press conference to preview his side’s New Year’s Day game at Swansea.

Pellegrini said: “I don’t know what you are talking about. I haven’t seen it.

“I read that something happened with Anelka, but I don’t know anything about Samir. I cannot talk about something that I haven’t seen.”

The Liverpool defender Sakho said in November that he was tricked into performing the gesture.

He wrote on his Twitter account: “This photo was taken six months ago, I did not know the meaning of this gesture, I got trapped!”

On Monday, a Liverpool spokesperson said: “Mamadou Sakho has explained that when posing for the photo, taken over six months ago, he had no knowledge of any meaning or significance attached to the gesture.”