PARIS - French footballer Nicolas Anelka triggered controversy on Saturday when he made a post-match gesture many interpret to be a modified 'Nazi-style' salute.
The 34-year-old striker thrust his straightened right arm downwards while tapping his bicep with the other hand after scoring a goal in an English Premier League match between his West Bromwich Albion team and West Ham United.
The gesture — an imitation of a salute frequently used by a French comedian friend of Anelka's who has been convicted several times for anti-Semitic public comments -- was immediately and widely condemned.
France's sports minister, Valerie Fourneyron, called it a "shocking, sickening provocation" and said there is "no place for anti-Semitism and inciting hatred on the football pitch".
British media reported that the Football Association was investigating the incident, while the European Jewish Congress demanded English Premier League officials ban Anelka. "This salute is merely a lesser known Nazi salute and we expect the same kind of punishment to be handed down by the authorities as if Anelka had made the infamous outstretched arm salute," said European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor in a statement.