Wayne Rooney Leads Support for Roy Hodgson over Andros Townsend Comment
Wins over Montenegro and Poland mean England will line up with the world's elite in Brazil next summer after the team and Hodgson passed their final qualifying tests.
The former Liverpool and West Brom boss could also be entitled to lap up the praise coming his way after his bold selection of Tottenham winger Andros Townsend for both matches proved to be a masterstroke.
Instead, however, the England manager has found himself at the centre of a race row over a comment made to Townsend at half-time against Poland on Tuesday, as Gordon Smart of The Sun (subscription required) reported.
The article stated that Hodgson used the phrase "feed the monkey" with regard to England players passing to the Tottenham man where possible during the game.
The England manager apologised immediately for the remark and also offered a public apology as part of Smart's story:
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 he did not take any offence and understood the point I was making in the manner I intended.
But Hodgson will also have been heartened by the public level of support he has also received from the Football Association and England players such as Wayne Rooney with regard to the comment.
FA chairman Greg Dyke was unreserved in his support for Hodgson in his statement released on www.theFA.com:
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.
Roy has spoken with Andros Townsend and a number of the players since the game and he has been assured there are no problems within the squad whatsoever.
Additionally, the FA has not had a complaint from any squad member or player representative, and we have today talked extensively to the squad.
The FA has been assured by the players that there are no problems and they understand the point Roy was making and the context in which he was speaking.
We will be making no further comment on this story and will now be giving Roy and the team our full support as we prepare for the World Cup in Brazil.
Townsend, 22, used his official Twitter feed, @andros_townsend, to insist that no offence had been meant or taken by the comment:
I don't know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy!— andros townsend (@andros_townsend) October 17, 2013
To be honest, it's really annoying that something such as this should see the light of day.
All the lads know what type of guy Roy is and to try and pin some form of label on him is absolutely ridiculous.
Roy spoke to Andros straight away who took no offence whatsoever. Hopefully that’s now the end of the matter.
Seen the story on roy this morning. He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous.— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) October 17, 2013
Anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out applauded the FA for investigating the comment swiftly on their website, Kickitout.org:
Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, is pleased that the Football Association (FA) has investigated this matter swiftly and issued its findings immediately.
If there has been no complaint on the back of the investigation then the matter can only be deemed as concluded.
Kick It Out acts on behalf of the football community at large and when an allegation of a racist or discriminatory nature is made, it's the organisation's role to follow this up.
Perhaps now, Hodgson can sit back and actually enjoy his successful World Cup qualifying campaign, although the question of who actually leaked the story will raise another issue.
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