Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto was banned for three games Friday for tweeting his support for Nicolas Anelka following the striker’s contentious goal celebration during a Premier League match last season.
The English Football Association also fined the Cameroon international 50,000 pounds ($82,000), warned him about his future conduct and ordered him to complete a compulsory education course.
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Anelka celebrated scoring a goal for West Bromwich Albion against West Ham on Dec. 28 by performing a gesture which is known in France as a quenelle and is regarded as anti-Semitic. Assou-Ekotto posted in French on Twitter after the match: ”I congratulate you on the beautiful quenelle.”
Both players were born in France.
The FA said the comment was ”abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper” and was a breach of FA rules.
Peter Griffiths, chairman of the independent regulatory commission hearing, said it was satisfied that when Assou-Ekotto sent the tweet, ”in his mind he believed he was congratulating Anelka on what he perceived to be an anti-establishment gesture as opposed to one associated with anti-Semitism.”
But Griffiths added that the commission believed Assou-Ekotto would have been aware of the connotation and controversies surrounding the use of the gesture and that ”these had included, rightly or wrongly, allegations concerning anti-Semitism.”
Tottenham issued a statement at the time of Assou-Ekotto’s tweet, saying the player accepted his comments were ”ill-advised.”
Assou-Ekotto can appeal.
Anelka was banned for five matches and had his contract with West Brom terminated for performing the quenelle.