Hodgson apologises in Townsend monkey joke race row

England manager Roy Hodgson has issued an apology for any offence caused by a joke he told at half-time of the national team’s 2-0 victory over Poland, the win that sealed England’s place at the World Cup, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

Hodgson was attempting to illustrate to Smalling how his role at right-back was to supply winger Townsend, using a joke said to be popular at NASA that tells of a man and a monkey fired into space, with the monkey doing all the work and the man there simply to feed the monkey.

Townsend was not thought to be upset by the joke but at least one player in the England dressing room was, the newspaper adds, feeling that the joke carried racist connotations. Hodgson is said to be horrified that his words could be interpreted that way and issued a statement to clarify his comments.

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.

Townsend was playing his second England international, having made his debut in the 4-1 win over Montenegro a few days earlier, scoring England’s third goal. Goals from Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard delivered the win over Poland and confirmed England’s place in Brazil 2014.

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