Townsend baffled by joke
18 October 2013, 10:31
London - England winger Andros Townsend has said on Thursday that he was not offended by a joke about a monkey told to the squad by manager Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson apologised after several British newspapers reported that he had told the joke at half-time of his side's 2-0 win over Poland on Tuesday, which saw them qualify for next year's World Cup.
According to the reports, Hodgson encouraged his players to pass the ball to in-form Tottenham Hotspur winger Townsend by telling a joke about a monkey being sent into space by US space agency NASA.
The word 'monkey' can have racist connotations, but although the joke concludes with the words "feed the monkey", it is not racist in nature. Townsend is of Cypriot and Jamaican descent.
Writing on Twitter, Townsend said: "I don't know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy!"
In a statement, Hodgson had said: "I would like to apologise if any offence has been caused by what I said at half-time.
"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 (Football Association) he did not take any offence, and understood the point I was making in the manner I intended."
Hodgson received support from England striker Wayne Rooney, who tweeted: "Seen the story on roy this morning. He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous."
The joke, which reportedly emerged at NASA in the 1960s and 1970s, is about a man being sent into space for the first time alongside a monkey.
The astronaut becomes frustrated that the monkey is being asked to do all the work and radios mission control to ask what he should do.
NASA replies: "Don't touch anything -- just feed the monkey."
Former England striker Stan Collymore was critical of the newspaper reports, writing on Twitter that the joke was inoffensive and that the story "demeans every anti racism campaigner by having (a) cheap pop at RH (Hodgson) who said NOTHING WRONG."
However, the executive director of European anti-racism organisations FARE, Piara Power, said that the England manager should have chosen his words more carefully.
"Hodgson used very silly term within a diverse team environment," Power said on Twitter.
"He should know better."