Roy Hodgson has revealed his dismay that England’s qualification for the 2014 World Cup has been overshadowed by a joke made during his team talk at half-time of the decisive match with Poland, Sky
Hodgson also insisted the joke was not racist and no player was offended. Hodgson was attempting to illustrate that he wanted to see England’s players pass the ball to Andros Townsend and used a joke about a monkey in space to do so, with reports in the media claiming one player felt the joke to be racist. Hodgson has received the full public backing of the Football Association, as well as Townsend and Wayne Rooney.
The former West Brom manager told the Daily Mail: “Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am.
“We have just had a successful period and, although I wouldn’t suggest we intend to rest on our laurels, I think we have earned the right to enjoy the fruits of our labours. Instead we get this.”
Hodgson pointed to his vast experience working in football all over the world as evidence of his open-mindedness, dismissing accusations of racism and arguing any offence taken was more a generational issue, as the player allegedly bothered by the joke was unlikely to be aware of the story behind it.
“You would have to go a long way to find somebody who is less racist than me,” Hodgson said. “I have coached almost everywhere in the last 37 years, worked with all kinds of people, so this intimation of racism – you can hardly call it a story – is so saddening.
“I admit some of the younger players may not have understood the reference to the monkey in space,” he continued. “They may not have heard the expression before but that’s a generational thing. I meant “give the ball to the player who can make things happen”. There was no other connotation and no offence was taken by any of the players.”
England qualified for the World Cup as winners of Group H, finishing a point ahead of Ukraine after two wins in their final two qualifiers. Rooney and Steven Gerrard scored the goals against Poland while Townsend, on his debut, was among those on target in a 4-1 win over Montenegro a few days earlier.
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