LONDON – England footballer Andros Townsend has confirmed he took no offence at Roy Hodgson’s joke at half-time of England’s clash with Poland on Tuesday.
Hodgson reportedly told a joke during half-time of the match against Poland with the intention of getting right-back Chris Smalling to get the ball to Townsend as often as possible.
One player was alleged to have been upset with the joke, which included the term “feed the monkey” and dates back from when the American space agency NASA sent a monkey into space in one of their missions.
Townsend, whose father Troy works for the Kick It Out campaign, said on Twitter: “I don’t know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken. It’s not even news worthy!”
Wayne Rooney also leapt to the defence of his manager, saying via Twitter: “He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous.”
Hodgson and the Football Association are reportedly upset that his comments have become an issue, especially in the wake of all the positive press he received for securing England’s place at the World Cup finals next summer with the 2-0 win at Wembley.
“I would like to apologise if any offence has been caused by what I said at half-time,” Hodgson said.
“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.”
Kick-It Out campaign chairman Lord Ouseley called for further investigation, though, saying: “This is not a hanging offence but offence has been caused, and now it is public the FA has a duty to investigate what happened.
“All the FA has to do is examine the facts and make a statement. If they do not there will be recriminations from other players.”
Today FA chairman Greg Dyke backed Hodgson and insisted his “monkey” comment to Townsend was not racist.
Townsend scored on debut last week against Montenegro.