FA happy no racist intent in Hodgson’s monkey joke
22-man squad for Poland game interviewed in confidence
England manager Roy Hodgson “has and deserves the full support” of the Football Association following a joke he made at half-time of the World Cup qualifier against Poland on Tuesday, FA chairman Greg Dyke has said. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
The English FA has thrown its full support behind England manager Roy Hodgson after speaking to every member of the national squad involved in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying victory over Poland and ascertaining that none had taken offence at the punchline to a “space monkey” joke Hodgson had relayed at half-time.
Hodgson had used the phrase “feed the monkey” during the interval at Wembley in an attempt to encourage his players to give the ball more often to winger Andros Townsend.
It is unclear whether the manager relayed the whole of what he clearly considers to be a well-known joke, which became popular at the US space agency, Nasa, in the 1960s and 1970s after it sent monkeys into space before humans.
Townsend has since taken to Twitter to stress no offence was taken, though the word “monkey” can certainly have racist connotations.
Kick It Out
The anti-racism campaign Kick It Out had asked the FA to investigate after the story emerged in yesterday’s Sun newspaper.
That investigation was swiftly undertaken with every member of the 22-man squad present at Wembley for the Poland game consulted in confidence on the telephone and each given the opportunity to indicate to the governing body if the manager’s words had made them uncomfortable.
“Roy Hodgson is a man of the highest integrity, an honourable man who is doing a great job with the England team,” said the FA chairman, Greg Dyke.
“He has, and deserves, the full support of the Football Association. He has fully explained to us what he said and the point he was making to the players in the dressingroom.
“He has also explained the context in which he made his remarks. He has made clear there was no intent to say anything inappropriate and he was certainly not making any comments with any racist connotation.
“Importantly, he has apologised for any unintended offence that may have been taken.
“Roy has spoken with Andros Townsend and a number of the players since the game and he has been assured there are no problems within the squad whatsoever. Additionally the FA has not had a complaint from any squad member or player representative and we have today talked extensively to the squad.”
That statement appeared to satisfy Kick It Out, which employs Townsend’s father, Troy, as mentoring manager.
Townsend, who had excelled on his second appearance for his country on Tuesday, had taken to Twitter earlier in the day to insist he had taken no offence from Hodgson’s words.
“I don’t know what all this fuss is about,” he wrote. “No offence was meant and none was taken! It’s not even news worthy!”
Those sentiments were echoed by his international team-mate, Wayne Rooney, who had tweeted on Thursday morning: “Seen the story on Roy this morning. He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous.” –