Skip to main content

NBA star Tony Parker drawn into 'quenelle' anti-Semitic row

updated 6:18 AM EST, Tue December 31, 2013
Tony Parker is a hero in his native France and with basketball fans in the United States.
Tony Parker is a hero in his native France and with basketball fans in the United States.
  • NBA star Tony Parker apologizes for using "quenelle" gesture
  • Parker said he did not realize it was associated with anti-Semitism
  • French footballer Nicolas Anelka says he will not repeat the "celebration"
  • Two other French EPL stars admit to doing 'quenelle' signal

(CNN) -- NBA superstar Tony Parker was forced to apologize Monday for using the same anti-Semitic gesture which has landed former France international footballer Nicolas Anelka in hot water.

Anelka, who plays for English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, performed the so-called "quenelle" -- pointing his right arm straight down and touching that arm with his left hand -- in celebrating a goal in a match against West Ham Saturday. Some have called the "quenelle" a Nazi salute in reverse.

Anelka is a friend of controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who popularized the "quenelle" and has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism.

With the English Football Association (FA) investigating the incident, Anelka has promised not to do it again.

Read: Anelka defends 'shocking' gesture

"The club fully acknowledges that Nicolas' goal celebration has caused offense in some quarters and has asked Nicolas not to perform the gesture again. Nicolas immediately agreed to adhere to this request," said a statement on the West Bromwich Albion website Monday.

Anelka's compatriot Parker came under the spotlight Sunday when a picture from three years ago surfaced of him doing the "quenelle."

The point guard has released a statement saying he was not aware at the time that it was offensive or harmful.

"While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it," he said.

Read: Parker stars in NBA Finals opener

"Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions.

"Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt."

Anelka has also denied his gesture was anti-Semitic and stated on Twitter that it was simply a "special dedication" to his friend Dieudonne.

Read: Is France a racist nation?

Two other French EPL players were drawn into the controversy Monday, with Manchester City's Samir Nasri and Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool, photographed performing the gesture.

Nasri took to social media to say his gesture was to symbolize "being against the system."

He tweeted: "It has absolutely nothing to do with being anti semitic or against Jewish people. I apologise for causing any hurt to anyone who might have."

Sakho said he was tricked into performing the signal. He wrote on his Twitter account: "This photo was taken six months ago, I did not know the meaning of this gesture, I got trapped!"

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.