Soccer

Anelka denies FA racism charge over gesture

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LONDON (AP)

West Bromwich Albion forward Nicolas Anelka will face an English Football Association disciplinary hearing after formally denying a racism charge for celebrating a goal with a gesture deemed anti-Semitic.

Anelka repeatedly has insisted that his use of the gesture, which is known in France as a ''quenelle'' and has been described as an ''inverted Nazi salute,'' was not anti-Semitic.

The former France international faces a minimum face-match ban if he is found guilty.

The FA said Anelka requested a personal hearing.

Earlier on Thursday, Anelka received the public backing of French performer Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bal, who popularized the ''quenelle.''

''Nicolas Anelka has all my support, that's evident,'' Dieudonne told British broadcaster Sky News. ''I consider him a brother in humanity. He's someone who is very courageous and for whom I have very much respect and admiration.''

Anelka performed the ''quenelle'' as he celebrated scoring in West Brom's 3-3 Premier League tie with West Ham on Dec. 28.

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