Roy Hodgson has been given the full support of the Football Association over the 'space monkey' race row that has overshadowed England's World Cup qualification.
English FA chairman Greg Dyke and anti-racism body 'Kick It Out' both declared the case closed on a remarkable furore that forced a mortified Hodgson to apologise for inadvertently offending at least one of his players with his half-time team talk during the win over Poland.
An unnamed member of the squad took umbrage at a joke Hodgson attempted to recite to highlight the importance of new England star Andros Townsend to the team and which included the expression "feed the monkey".
The quip appeared to fall flat, something Hodgson seemed to acknowledge by reassuring Townsend he had not intended to say anything inappropriate. But that failed to prevent one of Townsend's team-mates going public with his concerns – anonymously – sparking a huge debate over whether what Hodgson said could be construed as racist.
Amid calls from 'Kick It Out' for the matter to be investigated, the FA confirmed it had spoken to virtually every member of the squad – including all of the black players – inviting them to come forward with any misgivings. Despite being promised such concerns would be taken seriously and would not be held against them, no-one complained, with players insisting they understood the point Hodgson was attempting to make.
As did the FA, with Dyke, saying: "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 made it 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.
'Kick It Out' declared itself satisfied with the outcome.
Townsend himself, whose father Troy works for 'Kick It Out' as its mentoring manager, posted on Twitter yesterday morning: "I don't know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It's not even newsworthy!"(© Daily Telegraph, London)