December 6 2013 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Norwich City boss Chris Hughton has backed Roy Hodgson following the furore over the England manager’s reported comments towards Andros Townsend during the midweek 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Poland.
The England chief has been the subject of national newspaper stories on Thursday regarding a joke he made about a monkey in space during the half-time interval at Wembley. Townsend used his personal Twitter account to insist he was not offended by the comments and Hodgson has had the public backing of FA chairman Greg Dyke.
Hodgson has also issued his own statement apologising for any offence caused and Hughton is convinced Hodgson’s actions were not racially motivated.
“Of course the fact that it is the England manager this is going to be big news and particularly after a fantastic week for the team,” said Hughton. “I’m led to believe that there have been statements from Roy and the FA and I am quite sure that in the manner of what was said there was no intent to abuse anybody. We are in a different age now and we are very conscious these days of racial issues. Perhaps we are living in times when you have to be very, very careful what you say at any given time but I would reiterate knowing Roy as I do there would not have been any offence meant.
“Having said, that I think it is a good thing that in general terms we have reached the stage where incidents reach the press that years ago would never have been mentioned - that means there are far more people conscious of the issues. We have made great strides over the years and to maintain that good progress everyone has to work hard and I think there has to be an awareness about people’s actions.”
Hodgson insisted in his statement he had spoken to Townsend both immediately after the incident at Wembley and on Wednesday.
“I would like to apologise if any offence has been caused by what I said at half-time,” he 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.”
Hodgson’s joke is one that became popular in US space agency NASA in the 1960s and 1970s after it sent monkeys into space before humans. One version of the joke is that the first time NASA sends a man up into space a monkey goes with him and does all the skilled technical jobs inside the rocket. Finally the astronaut gets frustrated and radios NASA to ask what he should do, where a NASA offical replies: “Don’t touch anything - just feed the monkey.”
It is believed Hodgson was trying to illustrate the need for England’s defenders to play the ball early to Townsend against the Poles while he was in space on the flanks. England striker Wayne Rooney has also insisted Hodgson did ‘nothing wrong’ and that the incident had been blown out of all proportion.
He tweeted: “Seen the story on Roy this morning. He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous.”
Former England striker Stan Collymore said the row undermined efforts to tackle racism in football.
He tweeted: “Demeans every anti racism campaigner by having cheap pop at RH who said NOTHING WRONG. Makes campaigners seem over PC & petty. They’re not.”
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