Townsend says monkey joke a 'compliment'
18 October 2013, 19:04
London - Andros Townsend has said the comment from England manager Roy Hodgson that prompted a racism row should be viewed as a "compliment".
Hodgson came under fire after press reports he'd told a racially offensive joke at half-time during England's 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday that clinched World Cup qualification.
The manager's aim was to get his side to pass the ball to the in-form Townsend more often and the Tottenham Hotspur winger told the BBC on Friday: "The manager just told the players to give the ball to me so that's a compliment.
"Everyone should be focusing on England qualifying for Brazil - not on negative silly news."
The joke concerns a monkey and an astronaut going into space -- animals were sent on flights before manned missions -- with the punchline being the astronaut's only task is to "feed the monkey".
Although there is no racist overtone to the joke, 'monkey' can also be an insulting way of describing black men such as Townsend, who scored on his England debut in a 4-1 win against Montenegro last Friday.
Hodgson apologised but was furious his remark had been leaked to the press.
"Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am," he told Friday's Daily Mail.
"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."
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke pledged his full support for Hodgson, saying the governing body was satisfied there was no racist intent in his comments and praised him as "a man of the highest integrity".
But Peter Herbert, head of the Society of Black Lawyers and the new Race for Sport campaign group, wrote to Dyke on Friday demanding Hodgson be sent on a "race appreciation" course.
"To announce that the matter is 'closed' without any action being taken against the England manager is unacceptable and wholly inconsistent with your policies on equality and diversity," Herbert wrote.
"We are using the appropriate complaints procedure to urge the FA to provide mandatory 'race appreciation' training and 'cultural capital and cultural intelligence' training to Roy Hodgson and all football managers in the UK."
But Jose Mourinho insisted he "supported Roy".
"I think the best judges are the players," the Chelsea manager said Friday.
"When the players come out and support the manager, when the kid involved comes out and supports the manager -- no story.
"The only story is the players are the best judges.
"They were in the dressing room with him. My feeling is that he (Hodgson) is a good man, a man with principles. He has my support because I don't believe he was wishing to hurt somebody.
"I support Roy. But I'm not important. The players are important and the way the players came out and supported the manager, end of story."