Zoopla Officially Ends Sponsorship of West Bromwich Albion
Property website Zoopla on Monday officially ended its sponsorship of West Bromwich Albion following an outcry over the anti-Semitic gesture made by striker Nicolas Anelka, Reuters reports.
The company said in a statement quoted by the news agency that its deal with the club would not continue beyond the end of the season in May.
The statement followed media reports that Zoopla, which is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, would pull out of the $4.9 million contract unless West Brom dropped Anelka for Monday's league game against Everton.
The former France forward was later named in the starting lineup, noted Reuters.
"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 and has decided to focus its attention on other marketing activities after this season," the company said.
Anelka caused outrage last month after he used what appeared to be the ‘quenelle’ reverse Nazi salute after scoring a goal in a game in Britain against West Ham United.
The gesture was popularized by anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, but Anelka has insisted that it was merely "a dedication" to the comic. He also insisted following the incident that he was not anti-Semitic.
The Football Association is yet to report back on its investigation into the matter and the club said in a statement on December 30 that Anelka remained eligible for selection.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper Zoopla wanted its name removed from Anelka's shirt for Monday's match but the company name was still on his jersey when the Frenchman emerged from the tunnel for the start.
"West Bromwich Albion has been fully aware since the sponsorship agreement came into force in June 2012 that its partnership with Zoopla could expire this summer and therefore has been planning accordingly," the club said on Monday, according to Reuters.
"Zoopla has today informed the club in writing that it does not wish to extend its sponsorship deal. The club will now actively seek a new official sponsor for next season."
In the aftermath of the Anelka incident, France banned Dieudonne’s controversial show over its anti-Semitic slant.
Dieudonne has been at the heart of a furor over sketches widely viewed as anti-Semitic that prompted local authorities to block shows in his nationwide "The Wall" tour at the request of Interior Minister Manuel Valls. The ban was also backed by French President Francois Hollande.
He tried to challenge the individual bans in court but failed, deciding instead to circumvent the ban by presenting an alternate performance called "Asu Zoa" focused on Africa.