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World Cup draw is 'like opening a box of chocolates'

England manager Roy Hodgson has likened the World Cup draw to opening a box of chocolates.

He was paying lip-service to Tom Hanks' character from the 1994 film Forrest Gump, who said: "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get".

He also revealed that he is more concerned about the draw of venues than the teams England will face:

Watch: World Cup stadium crane collapse captured on film

Read more of Roy Hodgson's comments on the ITV Football website

Lineker: Hodgson 'neither a racist nor a comedian'

Former England striker Gary Lineker has tweeted that the national team's manager, Roy Hodgson, is "neither a racist nor a comedian" after criticism of a joke he made at half-time during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

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Anti-racist campaigners back FA on Hodgson joke

Kick It Out, the campaign against racism in football, have backed the FA's statement in support of England coach Roy Hodgson after his half-time joke during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

The Kick It Out campaign has backed the FA's statement of support for England coach Roy Hodgson
The Kick It Out campaign has backed the FA's statement of support for England coach Roy Hodgson Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The campaigners said they were "pleased" the matter had been investigated swiftly by the FA, adding: "If there has been no complaint on the back of the investigation then the matter can only be deemed as concluded."

FA backs Roy Hodgson over half-time joke

The Football Association has given its "full support" to England football coach Roy Hodgson after he was criticised for a joke he made at half-time during a World Cup qualifier with Poland.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke has backed England football coach Roy Hodgson
FA Chairman Greg Dyke has backed England football coach Roy Hodgson Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FA Chairman Greg Dyke said 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".

In a statement on the FA website, Dyke added: “He has made 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."

The FA said it had not received any complaints from the players after talking to the squad "extensively" to determine whether they had any problems with Hodgson's behaviour.

“He has fully explained to us what he said and the point he was making to the players in the dressing room at half-time on Tuesday night," Dyke said.

"He has also explained the context in which he made his remarks."

Collymore defends Hodgson against 'race gaffe' row

Former England footballer Stan Collymore has defended Roy Hodgson after the England manager was forced to apologise for a half time joke.

The former Liverpool and Nottingham Forest striker went as far as suggesting the row was undermining efforts to fight racism in the sport.

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Racism is hard enough to keep on the agenda as it is without making everyone think a legitimate space tale should be a cause for offence.

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Demeans every anti racism campaigner by having cheap pop at RH who said NOTHING WRONG. Makes campaigners seem over PC & petty. They're not.

Wayne Rooney and Andros Townsend have both defended their manager and questioned why there has been such furore over the incident.

However, equality group Kick It Out have called for an investigation into the comments.

Read: Townsend: 'No offence was meant and none was taken'

Kick It Out call for investigation into Hodgson joke

Equality group Kick It Out have called for an investigation into comments made by Roy Hodgson at half time of England's 2-0 win over Poland.

Hodgson, 66, told a joke about an astronaut and a space monkey to illustrate the need for Chris Smalling to get the ball to Andros Townsend in the second half.

Roy Hodgson has apologised for any offence caused by his half time joke Credit: PA Wire

In a statement, the group 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 (FA), 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."

Read: Townsend: 'No offence was meant and none was taken'

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Townsend: 'No offence was meant and none was taken'

Andros Townsend has insisted he did not take offence to Roy Hodgson's half time joke.

The England manager was forced to apologise after making a joke about a space monkey during a half time team talk.

Townsend tweeted:

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I don't know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy!

The Spurs winger has impressed in England's last two friendlies, scoring the third goal in the 4-1 victory over Montenegro.

England booked their place at the World Cup next summer after a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday.

Roy Hodgson forced to apologise after half time joke

England manager Roy Hodgson has apologised after making a joke about a space monkey and winger Andros Townsend during half time of the 2-0 win over Poland.

Hodgson is believed to have used the joke about a space monkey to encourage right back Chris Smalling to pass the ball to Andros Townsend.

The 66-year-old said: “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."

England manager Roy Hodgson Credit: PA Wire

While The Sun newspaper accused Hodgson of making a "race gaffe" which "upset" players, Wayne Rooney defended the England manager against the "ridiculous" story.

The striker tweeted: "Seen the story on roy this morning. He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous."

The row threatens to overshadow England's qualification for the World Cup which was confirmed after Tuesday's 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley.

Hodgson: Few teams will want to draw England

England manager Roy Hodgson believes a few teams will fear drawing the Three Lions at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

England manager Roy Hodgson. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Read: The England fan's guide to Brazil 2014

Goals from Wayne Rooney and captain Steven Gerrard against Poland at Wembley last night booked England's ticket to Brazil.

Hodgson conceded that his side will not be among the favourites when the tournament kicks off in June next year, but the Three Lions coach believes a few countries will be looking to avoid his team when the draw is made for the finals in December.

"We won't be favourites, that's for sure," the England manager said.

"But I don't think we will go into any games believing we don't have a chance to win and I don't think there will be too many teams out there thinking 'whoopee we have got England, what an easy one."'

Read: How do I get World Cup tickets and how much do they cost?

Hodgson: England 'ready' for crunch clash

England football manager Roy Hodgson said his players were "ready" to face the pressure of tonight's crucial World Cup qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley.

A win for Hodgson's side could put them on the brink of qualification for Brazil 2014, but a defeat could prove fatal to their hopes of reaching the finals.

Roy Hodgson has tipped his England side to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

"We're ready for it. We believe in ourselves, trust in each other, have the right determination and motivation," Hodgson said.

"We are a long way forward compared to how I felt 18 months ago. This is a perfect opportunity to prove that and improve the mood."

Follow the build-up to the match on the ITV Football website.

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