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Belgian Soccer Player Suspended Over 'Quenelle'

Belgian player Omar Rahou banned for 10 games for using the "quenelle".
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/5/2014, 5:12 AM

Soccer (illustrative)
Soccer (illustrative)
Reuters

Less than a week after Nicolas Anelka was suspended for using the anti-Semitic “quenelle” gesture, another soccer player was suspended on Tuesday for using the same gesture.

The Telegraph reports that UEFA has banned Belgian player Omar Rahou for 10 matches for performing a “quenelle”.

Rahou reportedly made the controversial gesture “several times” while celebrating a goal at UEF Futsal Euro 2014 in January, according to the report.

The 21-year-old Belgian had denied even knowing what a “quenelle”,  which has also been called an “inverted Nazi salute”. Nevertheless he was punished by UEFA’s control and disciplinary body, reported the Telegraph.

“The fight against racism and other discriminatory conducts is a high priority for UEFA,” the organization said in a statement, adding, it “has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands.”

“All forms of racist behavior are considered serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and are punished with the most severe sanctions,” the statement said.

Just last week, the UK Football Association punished French soccer player Nicolas Anelka, who plays for the British team West Bromwich Albion. Anelka was banned from five matches for using the offensive “quenelle” hand gesture after scoring a goal.

Anelka was also hit with an 80,000 pound fine, and was ordered to attend an educational program.

Rahou has the right of appeal, as does Anelka, who is expected to receive imminently the written reasons for his own punishment by an independent regulatory commission, noted the Telegraph.

The “quenelle” was popularized by anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who is a friend of Anelka’s. It has been described as “nothing more than a Nazi salute in disguise.”

Anelka has vigorously denied that the gesture is racist or anti-Semitic. Dieudonne has backed him, arguing that the gesture is “the gesture of emancipation.”

West Brom have already seen their shirt sponsor, Zoopla, opt against renewing a commercial agreement in the wake of the incident with Anelka.