Pressure group get involved in Roy Hodgson joke storm

Roy Hodgson has more pressing things on his mind. Photo: PA

A letter of complaint from a pressure group has been sent to the Football Association demanding that England boss Roy Hodgson attend a 'race appreciation' training course after details of a joke he told about a monkey in space were made public.

Peter Herbert, the head of the Society of Black Lawyers and who also runs the new Race For Sport organisation, has sent a four-page letter of complaint to the FA, saying it was wrong to declare the matter closed.

Hodgson, who apologised if any offence was caused, has expressed his frustration and anger that his side's achievement in reaching the World Cup earlier this week has been overshadowed by the details of the joke he told in the dressing room at half-time against Poland.

The FA was quick to give Hodgson its full backing over the joke about a monkey in space, which it is believed he used to illustrate why his players should give the ball to winger Andros Townsend.

The letter from Herbert to FA chairman Greg Dyke states: "To announce that the matter is 'closed' without any action being taken against the England manager is unacceptable and wholly inconsistent with your policies on equality and diversity.

"For Mr Hodgson or anyone else to make an apology if they fail to understand why the words used were offensive or potentially so is not the response of an institution with the resources and profile of the FA.

"The 'innocent remark' made out of ignorance is sadly a common feature of football. We are using the appropriate complaints procedure to urge the FA to provide mandatory 'race appreciation' training and 'cultural capital and cultural intelligence' training to Roy Hodgson and all football managers in the UK."

The FA is not commenting on the letter - but Hodgson believes the quip has put a spoiler on England's achievements in the past few days and he has received backing from Townsend and Wayne Rooney.

He told the Daily Mail: "Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am.

"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."

Lord Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, had initially called for the FA to investigate but the anti-racism campaign group accepted the matter was now concluded following a statement from FA chairman Greg Dyke that confirmed no complaint had been made and none of the players was unhappy with Hodgson's words.

Rooney described the accusations of racism against Hodgson as "absolutely ridiculous".

Rooney was one of the first to offer his support, and speaking to his website, the striker said: "To be honest, it's really annoying that something such as this should see the light of day.

"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."

Hodgson apologised for any offence caused and confirmed he had spoken to Townsend at the time and on Wednesday, which implies he had been aware of the possible connotations.

Townsend 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!"

Dyke's statement on the matter left no doubt over the strength of his support for the England manager.

"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," Dyke said.