West Bromwich Albion have confirmed they have sacked their controversial striker Nicolas Anelka for gross misconduct.
The much-travelled frontman only joined the Baggies during the summer, following a disappointing stint in China with Shanghai Shenhua and a brief loan spell in Italy with Juventus. It was considered quite a coup at the time, as the 35-year-old has shown throughout his career that he can produce at the highest level.
However, his spell at the Hawthorns will be remembered for his ‘quenelle’ goal celebrations at Upton Park in December, a gesture which is considered anti-Semite amongst the Jewish community. This resulted in the Football Association issuing him with a five-match suspension and a fine of £80,000, and his employers have since requested for him to apologise to the club and wider community before returning to the squad.
Anelka has refused to accept these conditions, and on Friday, he announced via his official Twitter account that he was terminating his Albion contract with immediate effect. This, understandably, has not been received well by the club, who have released a statement to confirm that they have sacked the former France international forward.
The statement read: “Nicolas Anelka’s purported termination of his Premier League contract this evening via Social Media was invalid as this was not conducted under the correct legal process as required by his contract. The club considers the conduct of Nicolas Anelka on December 28, coupled with his purported termination on Social Media this evening, to be gross misconduct. As a result the club has tonight written to Nicolas Anelka giving him 14 days’ notice of termination as required under his contract.”
Anelka, who has always denied his celebrations at Upton Park were meant as anti-establishment and not anti-Semitic, scored just two goals in 11 league matches for West Brom – both of which came in that infamous 3-3 draw with West Ham United. It remains to be seen if he will continue to play elsewhere or if he will now call time on a career which has seen him win Premier League titles and FA Cups with Arsenal and Chelsea, a Turkish league title with Fenerbahce, and the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid.