Nicolas Anelka 'quenelle' latest: Romelu Lukaku apologises for comments, claiming there was a 'misunderstanding'

The Toffees had to pull a video from their website in which Lukaku appeared to defend the French striker

Romelu Lukaku has apologised for any offence caused by his comments regarding Nicolas Anelka earlier this week.

Lukaku, the 20-year-old Belgium striker who is on loan at Everton from Chelsea, featured in a video interview posted on the Toffees' website in which he said there did not have to be "such a big deal" made about Anelka's controversial 'quenelle' celebration and that he thought the West Brom frontman should not be banned over it.

The quenelle, a pose Anelka struck after scoring against West Ham on December 28, has been labelled anti-Semitic and an inverted Nazi salute, and Anelka must respond to a Football Association charge concerning his demonstration of it by 6pm on Thursday.

Lukaku said in a statement: "I want to make clear that I was supporting a friend and player I have admired since I was a child.

"I apologise if I caused any offence with my comments as this was never my intention.

"There has been a misunderstanding and I want to clarify that I was in no way endorsing the gesture made by Nicolas."

The statement was issued through anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, for whom Lukaku is an ambassador.

Reports had suggested he faced being dropped from that role as a result of the interview.

And alongside the Lukaku statement, Kick It Out also on Thursday issued one from the group, saying: "Kick It Out has sought clarity from Romelu Lukaku on comments made to Sky Sports about Nicolas Anelka and the FA investigation into the 'quenelle' gesture (the interview that appeared on Everton's website).

"Romelu has clearly stated that he had no intention to support the gesture made by Anelka.

"The campaign continues to work with Romelu as a 'Next 20' ambassador and will look to guide him, in partnership with community organisations, on the sensitivity of issues covering all forms of discrimination moving forward."

Lukaku added in his statement: "I am proud to be a 'Next 20' ambassador for Kick It Out and will continue to inform young people of the harmful effects discrimination of any kind can have."

The quenelle was created by French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism.

Former France international Anelka is a friend of Dieudonne's and the 34-year-old player has insisted his salute was a gesture aimed at the French establishment.

On Tuesday Anelka was charged by the FA with making an "abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper" gesture, with it being alleged that it was an aggravated breach, in that it included "a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".

Under new FA rules, such aggravated offences carry a minimum five-game suspension and possibly a longer one.

Anelka, who denies wrongdoing, appears certain to contest the charge as he insists he is neither anti-Semitic nor racist.

Speaking before Anelka was charged, Lukaku said in the interview posted on evertontv: "He was my idol as a kid and he still is.

"I don't think he should be banned for that, he was just supporting a comedian in France. We don't have to make such a big deal about it.

"I hope he doesn't get suspended because he is a player people want to play on the pitch."

Everton removed the footage of the interview, which was filmed after the Toffees' 1-1 draw at West Brom on Monday, from their website.

And when asked on Thursday if he had spoken to Lukaku - who joined Chelsea when Anelka was at the London club - about the matter, Everton boss Roberto Martinez said: "We always speak and obviously this is an important issue because there has been a lot of misunderstanding about it.

"Rom is only a young man and sometimes after playing a game, the emotions could still be high.

"All he wanted to present was a bit of support for a player he has admired from a young age. But he never supported his views or the meaning of those views.

"Remember, there has been a big, big misunderstanding about this issue and the quicker that that gets solved - and it is not for us to solve it, that is for the player (Anelka) and the FA - the better. Everyone will have clarity.

"I'm sure there has been a big misunderstanding. One thing is supporting an individual and something else is to support a gesture.

"Romelu wanted to support an ex-team-mate. He understands there has been a big misunderstanding.

"He has never supported any sort of conflicting views that could be disrespectful to anyone - it is not the type of person he is."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power