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'I'm not anti-Semite,' French footballer Anelka says amid row

Published on Dec 30, 2013 6:02 AM
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West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka gestures as he celebrates scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion at The Boleyn Ground, Upton Park in east London on Dec 28, 2013. The game finished 3-3. French footballer Nicolas Anelka on Sunday strongly defended a controversial gesture he made during a weekend match, saying "I am neither anti-Semite nor racist", even as British football authorities mulled possible punishment. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French footballer Nicolas Anelka on Sunday strongly defended a controversial gesture he made during a weekend match, saying "I am neither anti-Semite nor racist", even as British football authorities mulled possible punishment.

The 34-year-old West Bromwich Albion striker and former member of France's national team issued a series of tweets rejecting claims that the gesture he made Saturday was anti-Semitic or a thinly veiled Nazi-like salute, as many have interpreted.

His response came amid growing outrage online and internationally, and a risk that he could face match suspensions if England's Football Association finds his act racially offensive.

Anelka argued in his tweets that the gesture - in which he thrust his straightened right arm downwards while tapping his bicep with the other hand - was merely "anti-establishment".

 
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