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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

FA backs Hodgson over 'monkey' joke

England and Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend has defended the national team manager after it was reported he made a joke during his half time team talk

The FA has given its support to Roy Hodgson after the England coach issued an apology for a joke he made during his half-time team talk in Tuesday's 2-0 win over Poland.

Hodgson told an old joke related to the space race during the 1960s and '70s to urge his players to get the ball to Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend, who had been terrorising the Polish defence.

The England coach used the joke's punchline, "feed the monkey", to get his point across, reported by both The Sun and The Daily Mirror. The joke has no racial connotations, but relates instead to when monkeys were sent into space by NASA, in the context that the monkey in the shuttle is the more important than the human astronaut.

The two papers report the joke differently, with The Daily Mirror publishing:

"NASA decided they'd finally send a man up in a capsule after sending only monkeys in the earlier missions.
"They fire the man and the monkey into space.
"The intercom crackles, 'Monkey, fire the retros'.
"A little later, 'Monkey, check the solid fuel supply'.
"Later still, 'Monkey, check the life support systems for the man'.
"The astronaut takes umbrage and radioes NASA, 'When do I get to do something?'
"NASA replies, 'In 15 minutes - feed the monkey'."

It is alleged that at least one player was upset at the use of the phrase, which has led Hodgson to say sorry and insist no offence was meant.

"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 also moved to play down the issue via his official Twitter feed on Thursday:

Later on Thursday, FA chairman Greg Dyke issued an emphatic statement via the organisation's official website which offered Hodgson his full backing.

"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 fully explained to us what he said and the point he was making to the players in the dressing room at half-time on Tuesday night. 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."

Dyke also confirmed in his statement that "the FA has not had a complaint from any squad member or player representative" and that the governing body would not be making any further comment on the matter.

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