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Townsend: Hodgson joke was a compliment

ESPN staff
October 18, 2013

Andros Townsend has described the comment made by England manager Roy Hodgson which prompted a race row as "a compliment".

Hodgson made reference to a joke about a space monkey and an astronaut during his half time team talk in Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Poland, and issued an apology on Thursday over the language he used during the interval at Wembley. The FA later gave full backing to the national coach.

He was attempting to encourage Chris Smalling to pass the ball to Townsend more often. However, Townsend confirmed to BBC Sport that he took no offence to the joke.

"The manager just told the players to give the ball to me so that's a compliment," Townsend said. "Everyone should be focusing on England qualifying for Brazil - not on negative silly news."

Meanwhile, Hodgson has expressed anger over the situation, revealing in an interview with the Daily Mail that he was unhappy with the overreaction of the incident.

"Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am," Hodgson said. "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."

Campaign group Race for Sport has sent a four-page letter of formal complaint to the FA, and has called for an independent investigation into the incident. The group described the decision to consider the matter closed as "unacceptable".

Hodgson personally spoke to Townsend in the aftermath of Tuesday's victory, which saw England qualify for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Wayne Rooney took to his personal website on Thursday to express his annoyance over the furore, while a number of other players and ex-players - including Townsend - played down the situation on Twitter.

"To be honest it's really annoying that something such as this should see the light of day," Rooney said. "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."

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