Football: England manager Hodgson has no regrets over 'monkey' gaffe

England manager Roy Hodgson (above) on Thursday, Nov 7, 2013, said that he did not regret making a controversial comment about winger Andros Townsend that partially overshadowed his side's qualification for the World Cup. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
England manager Roy Hodgson (above) on Thursday, Nov 7, 2013, said that he did not regret making a controversial comment about winger Andros Townsend that partially overshadowed his side's qualification for the World Cup. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - England manager Roy Hodgson on Thursday said that he did not regret making a controversial comment about winger Andros Townsend that partially overshadowed his side's qualification for the World Cup.

Hodgson's gaffe occurred at half-time of England's 2-0 win over Poland in their final World Cup qualifier last month, when he urged his players to pass the ball to Townsend, who is mixed race, by saying "feed the monkey".

He was referring to a joke about a monkey sent into space that reportedly circulated at US space agency Nasa in the 1960s, but it prompted a media storm and Hodgson had to issue an apology.

Speaking at a press conference to announce his squad for friendly games against Chile and Germany later this month, he said he wanted to put the matter behind him.

"It's very simple. It's difficult to really regret an innocent remark, but I've apologised if such an innocent remark could have caused any offence," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, the episode is finished, over and done with. I don't even wish to think about it anymore.

"I don't want the achievement of the players in getting us to the World Cup to be tarnished anymore."

The story emerged after details of the incident were leaked to the British press, but Hodgson said he had full confidence in his squad.

"I trust the players implicitly," he said.

"The attitude in the dressing room, in training and in matches is outstanding and I've rarely worked with a club side where the atmosphere and the feeling is any better.

"If I'm asked if I'm happy about it, I'd have to be honest and say I'm not.

It was an innocent remark that's been totally misconstrued and for me it's over and we move on."