Assou-Ekotto banned

Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been suspended for three matches and fined £50,000, subject to any appeal, after he denied an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3.

The Tottenham Hotspur player was also warned as to his future conduct and ordered to complete a compulsory education course. He was also ordered to pay the full costs of the hearing.

Mr Assou-Ekotto was charged by The FA with improper conduct concerning social media postings relating to the quenelle gesture performed by Nicolas Anelka in December 2013.

The charge was that the comment was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to Rule E3(1). Further to that, The FA considered the comment to be an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3(2), in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.

The Chairman of the Regulatory Commission, Mr Peter Griffiths QC, said in delivering the decision: 

“Even though we have found that there was an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 we are satisfied that when the Player sent the tweet on the 28th December 2013 congratulating Anelka, in his mind he believed he was congratulating Anelka on what he perceived to be an anti-establishment gesture as opposed to one associated with anti-Semitism.

But we are also satisfied of two further factors relevant to his culpability:

1)      That he was certainly aware before he sent the tweet that the quenelle gesture was very much associated with Dieudonne; and
2)      That he had, by then, acquired at least some knowledge of the controversies surrounding Dieudonne in the Autumn of 2013 and that these had included, rightly or wrongly, allegations concerning anti-Semitism.”

The sanction is stayed until either the player has appealed, the time for appeal has elapsed or the player has confirmed his intention not to appeal.

The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide full written reasons for its decision in due course, and the player has seven days to appeal upon receipt of these.