England have qualified for the World Cup. The country is ecstatic. The fans are delighted. The players are in high spirits. Except one.
This player is annoyed at what he sees as a racist joke, told at half-time by manager Roy Hodgson, and proceeds to slink off with his version of events to the editor of The Scottish Sun.
This is the real case of racism that engulfed the FA and the England setup on Tuesday night leading into Wednesday morning.
England had defeated a mildly resilient Poland, Roy Hodgson had secured “his proudest professional moment” and Andros Townsend built on a positive performance against Montenegro with another classy display.
And then came the shot.
The Scottish Sun reported that Roy Hodgson had told a racist joke at half-time, involving Chris Smalling and Townsend.
“Give Townsend the ball, that’s all Chris” was the sentiment – “Feed the monkey” was Hodgson’s alleged punchline.
The joke involves a man and a monkey on a mission to space. The monkey is the real brains of the operation, and so the man’s only job is to feed him so he can get the job done.
Not only is skulking off to the press anonymously a cowardly act, it shows something worse.
This is the racist part – the player’s view of the joke.
Why would someone be offended about a man and a monkey joke? It’s quite legible for – even if it is poor – humour, i.e. a monkey is more intelligent than a man.
The only way the anonymous player would be offended is if he himself is making the connection that Townsend is the monkey in the joke because of skin colour alone, and not because he was the “brains of England’s operation” down the right-side on Tuesday evening.
That is racism.
If the paper or reporter in question had any integrity, they would oust the player in question.
Unveil him, remove his anonymity and make him face the damaging questions that his England manager has had to face since Wednesday morning.
It is unlikely to happen, we don’t yet live in a perfect world.
But racist incident aside, a stronger undercurrent to the whole furore is that Hodgson has lost a player’s loyalty. That will worry him more.