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FA asked to look at Hodgson joke
Anti-racism group Kick It Out has called on the Football Association to investigate a joke about a monkey in space made by England boss Roy Hodgson despite winger Andros Townsend's attempts to play down the issue.
Hodgson has apologised to anyone offended by the joke made at half-time during the 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Poland, which was intended to convey the need for England to play the ball more to Townsend. The word 'monkey' can in certain contexts have racist connotations.
Townsend says no offence was meant or taken, but Kick It Out's chairman Lord Herman Ouseley has called on the FA to investigate the incident.
A Kick It Out statement said: "Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, recognises and shares the concerns of the parties who felt mindful to bring the comments into the public domain.
"The matter has been raised by the chair, Lord Herman Ouseley, directly with the Football Association, who acknowledges the apology made by Roy Hodgson, and now seeks an investigation to ascertain the full facts and ensure a similar situation does not arise again."
Townsend, whose father Troy works for Kick It Out as its mentoring manager, insists he was not offended and cannot understand why it has generated so much coverage.
The Tottenham player said on Twitter: "I don't know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy!"
Hodgson said in a statement: "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."
The 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.
NASA 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 while he was in space on the flanks.
Piara Powar, executive director of European anti-discrimination group FARE, said the England manager should be more careful.
He said on Twitter: "Hodgson used a very silly term within a diverse team environment. He should know better."
England striker Wayne Rooney insists 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."
The FA has been sensitive to any allegations of racism after John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy and later banned for four matches for racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said he was sure Hodgson had not intended to cause any offence.
He said: "We are a politically correct country so we always have to be careful about what we say these days.
"If we continue to hype it up and promote everything in the press nobody will be able to say a word very shortly. We will all have to keep ourselves to ourselves and not express our opinions.
"That isn't to say we should be saying anything wrong, we shouldn't, but you have to be very careful today but I'm sure what Roy said was something that didn't mean any harm or any offence to anybody."