A sponsor of the West Bromwich Albion British soccer team has threatened to cancel a $4.93 million deal if Nicolas Anelka, who is being investigated for performing an anti-Semitic gesture, plays in the next game.
Zoopla, which sponsors the team’s uniform shirts, is co-owned by a Jewish businessman, Alex Chesterman. He has threatened to drop the company’s sponsorship if Anelka is not dropped from the roster for Monday’s game against Everton in the Premier League.
Anelka, in a Dec. 28th game, performed the quenelle – a gesture reminiscent of the Hitler salute that was invented by the anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala. Anelka said he is not anti-Semitic and explained the gesture was a personal tribute to Dieudonne.
England’s Football Association is currently investigating the incident, though it has been accused of foot-dragging and Anelka has continued to play during the investigation. It could hand down a decision before Monday’s match.
If Anelka is charged under the Football Association’s anti-racism rules, he could be suspended for at least five matches.