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West Brom to lose shirt sponsor over Anelka's 'quenelle' gesture

Property website Zoopla have announced they won’t be renewing their deal with the Baggies next season.

Anelka making the controversial gesture.
Anelka making the controversial gesture.
Image: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

THE MAIN SPONSOR of English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion has announced that they will not renew their deal at the end of the season in the wake of striker Nicolas Anelka’s controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture.

Lawrence Hall, head of communications for property website Zoopla, said: “In recent weeks we have decided to re-evaluate this sponsorship and as a result we will focus our attention on other marketing activities from the end of the season.”

Former France striker Anelka, 34, sparked a media storm last month when he celebrated the first of his two goals in West Brom’s 3-3 league draw at West Ham United by putting one arm across his chest and straightening the other in a gesture interpreted by some as anti-Semitic.

The ‘quenelle’, popularised by French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, has been described by critics in France as an ‘inverted Nazi salute’, but Anelka has insisted that it was merely “a dedication” to the comic.

M’bala M’bala, better known simply as Dieudonne, says the gesture is anti-establishment and not anti-Semitic.

Earlier this month, England’s governing Football Association (FA) said no decision on whether Anelka would face disciplinary action would be announced until this Monday, January 20, at the earliest, a move which saw the FA criticised by anti-discrimination group Kick it Out for the time it had taken investigating the incident.

And last week reports emerged that Zoopla, co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, could pull out of the two-year multi-million-pound contract should Anelka play against Everton later on Monday.

But Marketing Week magazine said “one source close to the matter” had told them it was likely Anelka, who has continued to be selected by West Brom since making the gesture, would play against Everton, with the Midlands side determined not to let sponsors dictate team selection.

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Under new rules introduced last May, Anelka faces a minimum five-match ban if the FA decides he is guilty of discrimination.

If Anelka is banned, Albion could find themselves without two forwards following Friday’s transfer of Shane Long to Premier League rivals Hull City, and with little time to bring in a replacement before the January window shuts.

- © AFP, 2014

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