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NEW DELHI (AP) — Nicolas Anelka's plans to join Mumbai City in the new Indian Super League could be delayed by the five-match ban imposed in England for a racially aggravated goal celebration that led to his departure from West Bromwich Albion in March.
The 35-year-old former France striker posted on Twitter on Monday that he was excited to be joining the Mumbai club and the new league, adding: "talented international players & top Indian talent will make matches thrilling affairs."
The club and the league reacted quickly to Anelka's tweet, with the ISL posting news on its Facebook and Twitter feeds "OFFICIAL: BIG news! Mumbai City FC have signed Nicolas Anelka!"
Anelka is set to join other big names including Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pires, David Trezeguet, Freddie Ljungberg and Luis Garcia in the eight-team ISL, which kicks off Oct. 12.
However, FIFA was asked by the English Football Association in March to ensure Anelka's ban was applied worldwide if he tried to sign for another club.
FIFA was unable to comment on Anelka's playing status on Monday, which is a public holiday in its home city Zurich.
Anelka had a long career for France and played at Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in a well-traveled club career. His most recent Premier League stint ended suddenly in March after he was suspended by the English FA for performing a gesture which is known in France as a "quenelle" and is regarded as anti-Semitic.
Anelka later announced, in French and via Twitter, that he was leaving West Brom and terminating his contract with immediate effect. The club responded by saying the player's statement was invalid but that it was firing him for "gross misconduct."
FIFA confirmed in March that the FA "requested the extension of the sanction to have worldwide effect."
Anelka performed the quenelle as he celebrated scoring in West Brom's 3-3 draw with West Ham last December. The gesture involves pointing one straightened arm downward while touching the shoulder with the opposite hand. It was popularized by French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been convicted for inciting racial hatred and anti-Semitism.
Anelka was sent home from the 2010 World Cup after insulting France coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing room. Anelka refused to apologize and ended his international career with 14 goals in 69 appearances.
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