London – Nicolas Anelka's disciplinary hearing over his controversial 'quenelle' goal celebration is due to start early next week, British media reported Tuesday.
French striker Anelka, now with English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, faces a minimum five-match ban for making a gesture condemned in France as anti-Semitic after scoring the first of his two goals in a 3-3 draw against West Ham on December 28.
However, the 34-year-old has denied the gesture was anti-Semitic and requested a personal hearing.
Anelka was charged by England's governing Football Association last month with an aggravated offence after making a gesture that was judged to be “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper”.
The aggravated breach was that it included “a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief”.
The quenelle, described as an inverted Nazi salute, has been popularised by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, a friend of Anelka's, who was been prosecuted in France for various racial offences.
Anelka has maintained his goal celebration was an anti-establishment gesture in support of Dieudonne and that he is not racist or anti-Semitic.
Last month, Dieudonne was banned from entering the UK after the Home Office, Britain's interior ministry, made him subject to an exclusion order. – Sapa-AFP