Property website Zoopla is set to end their sponsorship deal with Premier League club West Bromwich Albion over a controversial gesture made by forward Nicolas Anelka.
After scoring at West Ham on December 28, Anelka stood with one hand pointing downward, the other across his chest, with his palm resting just above his elbow. The move was interpreted by many as a gesture known as the quenelle, a move with anti-Semitic connotations. The quenelle was brought to public attention by French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has been prosecuted by the French government for insulting the memory of Holocaust victims and holding antisemitic views.
After the goal, England’s Football Association announced that it would investigate Anelka’s gesture. The inquiry is still ongoing, with no update expected until Monday at the earliest. In the meantime, Anelka continues to play, having had a role in each match since the draw with West Ham. Should he be found guilty, however, the Frenchman faces a minimum five-match ban under new anti-racism rules.
Waiting until the end of the inquiry proved insufficient for shirt sponsor Zoopla, owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, with the company telling West Brom that Anelka must be dropped or lose their sponsorship deal. While there’s no word yet on whether the striker will play Monday against Everton, news broke that Zoopla will end their sponsorship after the current season concludes.
Zoopla has also stated that, should Anelka play, it will want the name dropped from the West Brom shirts immediately. It is unlikely that the club have taken kindly to the sponsor dictating its team selection, and it will likely have little influence over whether Anelka is chosen by new manager Pepe Mel. With the sponsorship deal now set to end anyway, is it possible we could see the Albion playing in sponsor-less kits for the rest of the season?