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Nicolas Anelka returned to action for West Bromwich Albion against Newcastle United despite being under investigation over his controversial ‘quenelle’ goal celebration.
Anelka, 34, sparked a media storm on Saturday when he celebrated the first of his two goals in the 3-3 Premier League draw at West Ham United by putting one arm across his chest and straightening the other.
The gesture, popularised by French comedian Dieudonne, has been described by critics in France as an anti-Semitic ‘inverted Nazi salute’, but Anelka has insisted that it was merely “a dedication” to the comic.
He also insisted that he was “neither anti-Semite nor racist”.
With England’s Football Association having launched an investigation into the matter, West Brom subsequently announced that Anelka had agreed not to repeat the gesture.
However, West Brom said that the former France international would “remain under consideration for first-team selection” until both the club and the FA have completed their investigations.
Under new anti-discrimination rules introduced last May, Anelka faces a minimum five-match ban if the FA decides that he is guilty of discrimination.
Having made his first appearance since October at West Ham, Anelka kept his place in the starting line-up for the New Year’s Day visit of Newcastle to The Hawthorns.
He spurned his side’s best chance of the first half when he shot over the bar from a Morgan Amalfitano pass, while he was also denied by Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul in the 69th minute.
Newcastle had full-back Mathieu Debuchy dismissed for a two-footed foul on Claudio Yacob and the hosts eventually prevailed 1-0 through a penalty from Matej Vydra in the 87th minute.
Anelka was replaced by Zoltan Gera shortly afterwards.