Mamadou Sakho, along with three other Premier League players, has been warned by the FA for allegedly demonstrating support for the controversial quenelle gesture, popularized by French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, over social media.
The gesture's association with anti-Semitism resulted in Nicolas Anelka receiving a five match ban for including it in a goal celebration at the end of December. Hull City's Yannick Sagbo and Tottenham Hotspur's Benoît Assou-Ekotto, on loan at Queens Park Rangers, tweeted words and photos of encouragement to Anelka for making the gesture, and both are under FA investigation as a result. Manchester City's Samir Nasri got off with a warning for a photo taken of him performing the gesture.
Sakho's situation is mild by comparison to the other three, with the Frenchman being "reminded of his responsibilities" by the FA. Like Nasri, Sakho was also photographed making the gesture, but well before Anelka made the salute famous to Premier League fans, the centre back had already taken to Twitter to clear up the situation.
@ElgabinchGabin Cette photo date d'il y a 6mois, je ne connaissais pas la signification de ce geste, je me suis fait piéger !— Mamadou Sakho (@mamadousakho3) November 27, 2013
"This photo was taken 6 months ago, I did not know the meaning of this gesture, I got trapped!"
When asked if he would have made the gesture had he been informed of its meaning in advance, Sakho was even more vehement in his response.
@RSonnensberg Evidemment NON ! ce ne sont pas du tout mes valeurs, ceux qui me connaissent le savent. Point final.— Mamadou Sakho (@mamadousakho3) November 27, 2013
"Obviously NO! These are not my values, those who know me know. Endpoint."
Sakho's "warning", if it can even be called that, seems to suffer mostly from coming as a result of the FA's comprehensive look into all incidences of the gesture being made by players and is thereby unfortunately associated with the far more serious cases of Sagbo and Assou-Ekotto. This isn't to say that it should be completely ignored, but the player's self-admitted contrition long before any investigation began combined with his genuine horror as to the gesture's meaning go a long way to exonerating him of any major wrongdoing.
Miraculously, even the FA agree.
Sakho, for his part, has been very vocal about racism in sport and the complex multicultural history of both his and the quenelle's birthplace, France. His reaction to being made aware of the quenelle's meaning reflects this, and that reaction sets an excellent example to other players who find themselves in similar controversial situations.