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Nicolas Anelka could face minimum five-match suspension for quenelle salute

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Nicolas Anelka is refusing to apologize, saying Saturday’s quenelle tribute was not anti-Semitic, never mind the person to whom he was paying tribute, French comedian Dieudonné, is seen as a right-wing, anti-Zionist figure. In raising his left hand to a down-pointing right arm, Anelka was appropriating the imagery of a perceived anti-Semite, even if the West Brom striker didn’t intend his actions to be hateful.

[MORE: Nicolas Anelka accused of ‘anti-Semitic’ gesture during goal celebration (video)]

Between that, his recalcitrant response, and the poor judgment showed in bringing these actions to the middle of Upton Park on Saturday, there are plenty of reasons for The FA to be concerned with Anelka’s actions. Given the two-game suspension Jack Wilshere was handed for raising his middle finger to fans at the Etihad, it’s no surprise Anelka’s facing an even longer ban, with England’s governing body potentially handing the West Brom striker a five-match sanction under anti-discrimination rules introduced in May.

As The Guardian reports, aggravating circumstances could extend that ban, though perhaps none of this would be necessary if Anelka wasn’t so stubborn in his defense of the actions. Had the 34-year-old simply apologized for his gestures and claimed ignorance of the effects, it’d be easier to look on Saturday’s actions with sympathy. After all, we’ve all done things with the best intentions only to have others highlight out our stupidity.

Instead, Anelka at French sports minster Valérie Fourneyron for calling the gesture disgusting. He’s also taken to Twitter to ask people to look beyond media coverage of his salute, implicitly dismissing the idea that he should have been aware of his actions’ negative consequences.

As collected by The Guardian:

In a series of tweets, Anelka has defended his actions, saying the quenelle celebration was intended to be anti-establishment. He tweeted: “I do not know what the word religion has to do with this story. This quenelle is a dedication to my friend [the comedian] Dieudonné. With regard to the ministers who have given their own interpretations of my quenelle … they are the ones that create confusion and controversy without knowing what this gesture really means. I ask people not to be duped by the mediaAnd of course, I am neither a racist nor an anti-Semite.”

source:  Getty Images
Nicolas Anelka scored the first two goals of his West Brom career in Saturday’s 3-3 draw at West Ham United, but the 34-year-old striker is facing a five-game ban after his quenelle salutes. (Photo: Getty Images)

The more this plays out, the more it looks like stupidity of some sort on Anelka’s part. Either he was innocently stupid, ignorant in thinking everybody would see his salute for his best intentions, or he’s being maliciously stupid in evoking a gesture that seems impossible to untangle from the politics of Dieudonné, its anti-Zionist creator. Making the bold (and probably erroneous) assumption you can every untangle imagery from its implications, Anelka’s asking the world to see Saturday through from his point of view, perhaps never considering his viewpoint has created this confusion.

In a previous post, we noted athletes like Tony Parker, Samir Nasri, Mamadou Sakho and Boris Diaw have also been photographed making a quenelle, but Parker doesn’t do so at the center circle of the AT&T Center. Nasri doesn’t celebrate Manchester City’s goals with the controversial salute, and Sakho’s pictures with Dieudonné have been in private. While it’s worth questioning the judgement each man’s shown, that’s all behavior from their personal lives.

Anelka’s brought this into the professional realm. On the occasion of his first goals with West Brom, he’s evoked a reverse Nazi salute, a disarmingly controversial way to mark his contributions. Given he seems oblivious to his potential offense, Anelka’s on course to test The FA’s new rules. Expect him to miss five games, minimum.

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.

Chelsea wins the League… of Hate; Bournemouth, Leicester not hated

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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A family of English newspapers conducted its annual survey of which teams are the most hated in the Premier League, and there’s a new champion.

Manchester United has dropped to second in the table to Chelsea in what the Manchester Evening News called the “League of Hate”.

[ MORE: Rooney’s England position not set ]

According to the MEN, 10,000 fans were quizzed on their love and hate:

A national survey asked fans of each top flight club which sides they hate, and which they love, and the west London club came out as the most disliked club overall.

United, who won the dubious accolade last year, have been revealed to be the next most reviled side.

It’s no surprise that the league’s more successful sides sit atop the table while newer PL clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley are not reviled. That said, Leicester’s dream story has them 19th. How much more success do they need to have before shooting up the hate table?

Here’s the Top Five, and all results:

1) Chelsea
2) Manchester United
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester City
5) Arsenal