LONDON (Reuters) - The European Jewish Congress (EJC) offered on Tuesday to help European soccer’s governing body UEFA and the English FA to fight anti-Semitism in the sport following Nicolas Anelka’s “quenelle” salute.
It has also called on the soccer authorities to ban Anelka, 34, who is being investigated by the English FA, for the gesture.
The former France striker celebrated the first of the two goals he scored in West Bromwich Albion’s 3-3 draw at West Ham United on Saturday by making the gesture, made famous by the French comedian Dieudonne, which is linked to anti-Semitism.
The 34-year-old Anelka promised his club on Monday he would not repeat it in future.
But EJC president Doctor Moshe Kantor has written to both Michel Platini, the UEFA president, and Greg Dyke, the chairman of the English FA, saying what Anelka did means there can be no let-up in the fight to keep anti-Semitism out of soccer.
“We offer the co-operation of the European Jewish Congress and are ready to discuss practical ideas and suggestions for combating anti-Semitism and racism in football,” said Kantor, who called for Anelka to be banned.
“There is an urgent need for action to confront this phenomenon as it relates to football and we stand ready to assist you in combating this intolerable hate.
“At the European Jewish Congress, we regularly receive reports of attacks on Jews, whether verbal or physical, which also include acts of anti-Semitism at matches involving English and European football clubs,” he added.
“Mr Anelka’s recent action is a reminder that hatred of Jews in the stands can very easily find its way right on to the pitch.
“Similarly, the legitimization of anti-Semitic acts by players who are supposed to act as role models for youth is a particularly dangerous phenomenon, and one that is not restricted to Mr. Anelka alone.”
Thousands of photographs have emerged on the internet showing people using the quenelle in what the EJC calls “sensitive sites” like the Auschwitz death camp, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and in front of the Toulouse Jewish school where four people, including three school children, were massacred last March.
“This amply demonstrates that the salute is a means of provocation towards Jews,” added Kantor.
The FA, UEFA and world governing body FIFA, have long worked closely with anti-racism organizations like FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) and the English “Kick It Out” campaign to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia in soccer.
The EJC is a democratically-elected body which represents European Jewish communities throughout Europe.
Editing by Ed Osmond