Anelka made the gesture on December 28 when celebrating a goal against West Ham but has since claimed that the ‘quenelle’ was merely a show of support for his friend and comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala.
However, the gesture is believed to have anti-Semitic connotations.
The FA announced on Tuesday that they had charged Anelka for the gesture, which makes the timing of the publication of the Lukaku interview all the more intriguing.
Lukaku said: "He's been my idol since I was a kid. He still is. I think he shouldn't be banned for that [quenelle]. He was just like supporting a stand-up comedian in France. We don't have to make such a big deal about it.
"He's an adult. I hope he doesn't get suspended because he's a player people want to see play on the pitch."
Lukaku’s words and Everton’s decision to publish them were met with some surprise:
Everton remove video from their website of Lukaku calling on FA not to ban Anelka & backing use of "quenelle" which is seen as antisemitic
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 21, 2014
It was later reported that the comments were made in the mixed zone after the West Brom-Everton game on Monday night but their glib nature could have wide ranging implications.
Particularly considering that the FA have charged Anelka because they allege the gesture “was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper” and “included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
I'm all for solidarity and standing up for your mates but I can't believe Lukaku has put Everton, Chelsea & himself in this position. — Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) January 21, 2014
Everton distanced themselves from the on loan striker's comments with Everton's director of communications Alan Myers saying "not the opinion held by the football club".
"We moved quickly to remove any interview that may have been offensive to anyone," added Myers.
"The last thing we want to do is cause offence to anyone."
- Society & Culture
- Nicolas Anelka
- Romelu Lukaku