LONDON – Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey displayed a “lamentable degree of ignorance” regarding Adolf Hitler, a Football Association (FA) panel said on Tuesday, giving their reasons for the not-proven verdict on a charge of making a Nazi salute.
The 32-year-old Crystal Palace star – who was Wales’ number one goalkeeper when they reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals – had been in the dock over making what looked like a Nazi salute on a night out on January 5 with his teammates after beating lower league Grimsby Town in the FA Cup.
He claimed his gesture – raising his right arm and putting his left hand over his mouth which was posted on Instagram by German teammate Max Meyer – was an effort to try and attract the attention of the person taking a photograph of the group.
The panel voted 2-1 in his favour earlier this month, and on Tuesday delivered their written reasoning for the decision.
Hennessey said “from the outset” of the hearing he did not know what a Nazi salute was, and any resemblance to it was “absolutely coincidental”.
“Improbable as that may seem to those of us of an older generation, we do not reject that assertion as untrue,” said the panel.
“In fact, when cross-examined about this, Mr Hennessey displayed a very considerable – one might even say lamentable – degree of ignorance about anything to do with Hitler, Fascism and the Nazi regime.
“Regrettable though it may be that anyone should be unaware of so important a part of our own and world history, we do not feel we should therefore find he was not telling the truth about this.
“All we would say (at the risk of sounding patronising) is that Mr Hennessey would be well advised to familiarise himself with events which continue to have great significance to those who live in a free country.”
Yesterday evening I had a meal with my team mates and we had a group photograph. I waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it and at the same time put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry. It’s been brought to my attention that frozen in a— Wayne Hennessey (@WayneHennessey1) January 6, 2019
moment by the camera this looks like I am making a completely inappropriate type of salute. I can assure everyone I would never ever do that and any resemblance to that kind of gesture is absolutely coincidental. Love and peace Wayne— Wayne Hennessey (@WayneHennessey1) January 6, 2019