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Soccer player in Britain fined for quenelle support

(JTA) — Britain’s governing soccer body fined a player more than $25,000 for posting a message of support for Nicolas Anelka’s quenelle gesture on social media.

The Football Association on Tuesday fined Yannick Sagbo of the Hull City team for the action following an Independent Regulatory Commission Hearing. Sagbo, who comes from the Ivory Coast, also was ordered to attend a “compulsory education course.” Once a written decision is issued, Sagbo or his team can appeal the decision.

Sagbo posted a photo of Anelka’s quenelle celebration with the word “legend” on his Twitter feed. He also called Anelka, who is from France, a role model for French urban youth.

At his hearing, Sagbo acknowledged a breach of the league rule prohibiting players from making comments that are “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper.” An aggravated breach of the rule includes comments that include “a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”

Anelka, who played with Britain’s West Bromwich Albion team, in late February was fined and given a five-match suspension for performing the gesture during a December game. He was later fired by the team.

The gesture is widely considered anti-Semitic and reminiscent of the Nazi salute. It was invented by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a French comedian who has multiple convictions for inciting hatred against Jews. Dieudonne has said the gesture is anti-establishment.

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