Football Association has given England manager Roy Hodgson its full support after the 66-year-old inadvertently became embroiled in a race row following a joke made inside the Wembley dressing room at half-time of this week’s World Cup qualifier with Poland.
Trying to explain to right-back Chris Smalling that he needed to pass to winger Andros Townsend more often, such was his impact in the opening 45 minutes, Hodgson shared a joke once popular with US space agency Nasa when monkeys were previously sent into space before astronauts.
The punch-line contains the phrase “feed the monkey”, which is said to have upset at least one England player.
However, Hodgson apologised profusely yesterday to anyone offended by its misinterpretation and FA chairman Greg Dyke gave his backing to the England boss.
“He has made clear there was no intent to say anything inappropriate and he was certainly not making any comments with any racist connotation,” said Dyke. “Importantly, he has apologised for any unintended offence that may have been taken.
“The FA has been assured by the players that there are no problems and they understand the point Roy was making and the context in which he was speaking.”
Townsend confirmed on his official Twitter account that “no offence was meant and none was taken”.
Meanwhile, striker Wayne Rooney labelled the suggestion that there was a racist element to Hodgson’s joke “absolutely ridiculous”.
Football’s equality and inclusion campaign group Kick It Out initially called for an investigation “to ascertain the full facts and ensure a similar situation does not arise again”.
Though in a later statement they expressed satisfaction at the FA’s “swift” action and that they believed the matter was now concluded.
REACTION TO HODGSON SPACE-MONKEY JOKE
I would like to apologise if any offence has been caused by what I said at half-time. There was absolutely no intention on my part to say anything inappropriate. I made this clear straight away to Andros in the dressing room. I also spoke to Andros again on Wednesday. He has assured me and the FA he did not take any offence and understood the point I was making in the manner I intended.
I don’t know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken. It’s not even newsworthy.
It’s really annoying that something such as this should see the light of day. All the lads know what type of guy Roy is and to try and pin some form of label on him is absolutely ridiculous. Roy spoke to Andros straight away who took no offence whatsoever. Hopefully that’s now the end of the matter.
Roy Hodgson is a man of the highest integrity, an honourable man who is doing a great job with the England team. He has and deserves the full support of the Football Association. He has made clear there was no intent to say anything inappropriate and he was certainly not making any comments with any racist connotation.
GREG DYKE, FA CHAIRMAN