Monkey-gate (someone else is going to use the term, so we might as well get in early) has threatened to overshadow England's World Cup qualification, and manager Roy Hodgson has admitted to feeling saddened by the affair.
News broke late on Wednesday evening that Hodgson, during half-time of the win over Poland, had referred to a long-standing joke about a monkey in space in a bid to get his point across that England should continue to give the ball to Andros Townsend as quickly as possible in the second half.
In a bid to head off a storm, Hodgson later issued an apology in which he insisted no offence had been intended. The fact that the story had been leaked from within the dressing room, however, suggests at least one individual had indeed been offended.
The likes of Townsend and Wayne Rooney have spoken out in defence of Hodgson via their Twitter accounts while Joey Barton hit out at the individual who spoke to the press.
Hodgson has told the Mail's Neil Ashton and Michael Henderson that he is unhappy the issue is overshadowing the team's achievement:
Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am.
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.
You would have to go a long way to find somebody who is less racist than me. I have coached almost everywhere in the last 37 years, worked with all kinds of people, so this intimation of racism—you can hardly call it a story—is so saddening.