The Football Association has charged West Brom striker, Nicolas Anelka, following his ‘quenelle’ inverted Nazi salute gesture in the match against West Ham last month.
The official statement on the FA’s website reads: "The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013.
"It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3.
"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief. Anelka has until 6pm on 23 January 2014 to respond to the charge."
The Frenchman will become the first player to be charged by the FA under guidelines introduced to tackle racial discrimination and will face a minimum five-game ban.
West Brom’s £3m shirt sponsors Zoopla has already followed up their threat to pull out of their contract with the English Premier League club after West Brom refused to axe Anelka.
In a statement, the property company said: “Zoopla has been reviewing its position over the past few weeks in light of the actions of striker Nicolas Anelka during the match against West Ham over the Christmas period.”
West Brom’s new head coach, Pepe Mel, started Anelka in last night’s 1-1 draw with Everton and said he had no issues when selecting Anelka.
“Nicolas is a very good player and a very good professional and I am only the head coach," said Mel.
“If he is suspended by the (English) FA, then he is not able to play, but here at the club we must think about winning football matches and he was available. My obligation is just to think about the football and the best interests of West Bromwich Albion."