LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto was banned for three games and fined by the Football Association on Friday after sending Nicolas Anelka a message of support following his controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture last season.
Former France striker Anelka made the gesture — widely regarded as anti-Semitic — having scored for West Brom against West Ham on December 28.
The Baggies later sacked Anelka following their own internal investigation.
Assou-Ekotto was charged after sending a tweet to Anelka congratulating him on the gesture. He will now serve a ban and pay a £50,000 ($82,000, 64,000 Euros) fine.
Hull striker Yannick Sagbo previously served a two-game ban and was fined £15,000 after also publicly backing Anelka, while Samir Nasri and Mamadou Sakho escaped with warnings for similar offences.
But Cameroon international Assou-Ekotto, on-loan at QPR last season and now omitted from Tottenham’s Premier League squad will face a more severe punishment, with the FA, English football’s governing body.
“Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been suspended for three matches and fined £50,000, subject to any appeal, after he denied an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3,” the FA said.
“The Tottenham Hotspur player was also warned as to his future conduct and ordered to complete a compulsory education course. He was also ordered to pay the full costs of the hearing.
“Mr Assou-Ekotto was charged by The FA with improper conduct concerning social media postings relating to the quenelle gesture performed by Nicolas Anelka in December 2013…The FA considered the comment to be an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3(2), in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”