Romelu Lukaku has said Nicolas Anelka should not be banned over the quenelle gesture he made at West Ham last month.
The Football Association today confirmed they have charged Anelka, whose celebration has anti-Semitic connotations, and the Frenchman faces a five-match ban at the very least.
Anelka started for West Brom in their 1-1 draw against Everton on Monday night, and Toffees striker Lukaku claimed people "shouldn't make such a big deal about it".
Anelka Charged By FA Over Quenelle Gesture
In a video interview, Lukaku said of Anelka: "He's been my idol since I was a kid. He still is.
"I think he shouldn't be banned for that. He was supporting a stand-up comedian in France," Lukaku added in a video which appeared on the Everton website. "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."
Anelka vs West Ham
The interview was a Sky Sports News video interview Everton auto-uploaded, however that file has since been removed.
Anelka defended his reaction following the first of his two goals at West Ham was "a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné".
He has been charged with making a improper gesture and that it was an aggravated breach, in that it included "a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."
"It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3," the FA said in a statement.
"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."
A three-man independent regulatory commission will now be appointed to deal with the case - either to decide on the sanction if Anelka admits the charge or to hold a disciplinary hearing if he denies it.