Footballer Wayne Hennessey has been cleared by the Football Association’s (FA) Independent Regulatory Commission of the accusation of performing a Nazi salute because it was ruled that he did not know what a Nazi salute was.
The Nazi salute, also known as the Hitler salute, is grossly offensive to Jews and is a well-known fascist gesture. It was the gesture of adoration for Adolf Hitler performed by massed German mobs who attacked and killed Jews, as well as by Nazi Germany’s armed forces as they murdered millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
Mr Hennessey, the Crystal Palace goalkeeper and Wales international player, was pictured with his right arm in the air and left hand above his mouth in a photograph posted on Instagram by German team-mate Max Meyer on 5th January. The gesture is often used as an attempt to mimic Hitler, with the left hand used to imitate a moustache.
Mr Hennessey denied the charge and said that any resemblance to the Nazi gesture was “absolutely coincidental”. His defence stated that he did not know what a Nazi salute was, according to the FA’s written reasons after the charge was found not proven.
Mr Hennessey said that he “waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it” and “put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry”. He reportedly submitted photographs to the panel of him making similar gestures during matches to attract the attention of team-mates.
The panel said Mr Hennessey was “able to corroborate” his explanation with a series of photographs, including one that showed his right arm raised and left hand across his mouth in a “similar way” to the photo posted on Instagram. They said that he showed a “lamentable degree of ignorance” about Adolf Hitler, fascism and the Nazi regime.
The charge was found not proven after two members of the three-man panel believed the photograph had been “misinterpreted”. The other said the “only plausible explanation” was that Hennessey performed the salute.