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LONDON, Dec 28 (Reuters) - The FA is to investigate an alleged anti-Semitic gesture made by West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka during Saturday's 3-3 Premier League draw at West Ham United.
An FA spokesman said his organisation would be launching a probe after Anelka's actions provoked widespread criticism.
The former France striker celebrated the first of his two goals against West Ham with an apparent "quenelle" hand signal, made famous by French comedian Dieudonne, which is linked to anti-Semitism.
"Anelka's gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting," French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron said on Twitter. "There's no place for anti-Semitism on the football field."
The former Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris St Germain striker tried to play down the incident.
"This gesture was a special dedication to my friend Dieudonne," Anelka said on Twitter.
The 34-year-old was backed by West Brom caretaker coach Keith Downing.
"It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well," said Downing. "I think speculation can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really.
"He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around, he is totally surprised by it."
The 'Let's Kick Racism Out Of Football' campaign group issued a statement on the Upton Park incident.
"The campaign is in contact with partners in England and France regarding this matter and has offered its support to the Football Association in any forthcoming investigation," it said.
Anelka's two goals were his first for 15th-placed West Brom, the club he joined as a free agent in the close season after a loan spell with Juventus ended.
Albion are the sixth Premier League club the veteran striker has represented in his career.
Anelka, who scored 14 goals in 69 appearances for his country before retiring from international football in 2010, was nicknamed 'Le Sulk' earlier in his career because of a history of disputes with managers.
He took a week off on compassionate grounds earlier this season, and considered retirement, following the death of his agent. (Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Ed Osmond)