Why Nicolas Anelka should serve a ban following his quenelle celebration

Earlier in the week, a colleague of mine asked me what I was going to say about Nicolas Anelka’s quenelle gesture in this column.

I replied that I didn’t intend to touch the subject with a barge pole, firstly because it’s such a complicated issue and secondly because I had some sympathy with him and was keen to avoid coming across as anti-Semitic.

I had sympathy with Anelka because I bought his story that using the gesture was meant as a way of showing his support for his friend, comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, rather than anything more sinister.

In addition, I’m pretty sure that most people in this country will have been slightly non-plussed when they saw the gesture, so how could it offend anyone?

However, as the week went on and I looked a little deeper into the issue, my sympathy for Anelka has waned.

Whether or not M’bala M’bala, who invented the gesture, meant it to be anti-Semitic, I’m not sure. However, it is pretty clear that it has become just that in France, with people performing it outside synagogues and, disgustingly, at former concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

I’m still happy to believe that Anelka is not a racist and made the gesture in support of M’bala M’bala – but I no longer think that this is a good enough excuse.

He must have known that people, especially in France, would be aware of the gesture’s anti-Semitic connotations, so surely he is guilty of making an “abusive” sign and deserves to be punished for it.

Worse still, he is almost single-handedly responsible for introducing the gesture to this country. Its connotations may be ambiguous over the channel, but I have a horrible feeling it will be adopted by racists in this country to show their feelings of anti-Semitism.

Providing these idiots with another means with which to abuse people is perhaps Anelka’s biggest crime, regardless of his intentions.

The FA has taken a lot of stick for allowing the saga to rumble on while they investigated – but I do have sympathy with them. It is a very complicated issue, with a mountain of grey areas, and they needed to get their facts right before they charged the player.

Assuming he is found guilty, they now have to work out how long to ban him for – but that’s a whole other story.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Does bobsleigh really merit more than £3million in funding?

I had a look at the amount of funding various sports received in the build-up to the forthcoming Winter Olympics and was amazed to see that bobsleigh and skeleton were top of the charts, with each receiving more than £3million.

To be fair, this seems to be in line with the summer Olympic sports, it’s far less than the likes of athletics and rowing get for example.

However, does that mean that UK Sport is right to plough so much money into these sports? I’m not sure.

In my opinion, at least part of the criteria for funding sports should be to encourage the general public to participate – something that, frankly, isn’t going to happen with these sports.

In contrast, figure skating, a far more accessible sport, got less than £200,000 in funding. Yes, we have a decent record at skeleton, but surely, given the same funding, we could become more successful at figure skating, a sport that is available to far more young people.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Why selling Juan Mata to Manchester United is great business for Chelsea

As a Chelsea fan, you may expect me to be unhappy with the sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United – but I think it’s a great deal for the club.

Yes, the Spainard was the club’s player of the year for the past two seasons, but he has been reduced to playing a bit-part under Jose Mourinho.

The bigger problem may be that Chelsea are helping United by selling them a player of his class – but there are about 37 million reasons why this shouldn’t be an issue.

With the emergence of Willian, Mata is clearly surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. Selling him to a rival isn’t ideal, but United have paid a premium, partly for that reason. Nobody else would have paid so much to get him.

The advantage to Chelsea is two-fold. Firstly, they need the money to balance the books when FIFA’s financial fair play restrictions come into place. Secondly, they can use the money to buy players in areas where they are lacking, rather than paying high wages to Mata, who occupies a position where they already have an embarrassment of riches.

What do you think? Have your say by using the comment box below or Tweet me @JBoymanGaztte.