Roy Hodgson furious, as England’s racist joke saga rumbles on

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Just a few days after England manager Roy Hodgson masterminded his nations successful path to World Cup 2014 in Brazil, the 66-year-old manager is caught up in the middle of a race storm.

Following a joke he made in the dressing room at half-time of England’s 2-0 win over Poland on Tuesday, Hodgson’s joke, exactly what he said is still uncertain, had to do with an astronaut and a monkey on a space mission. As the joke goes, the monkey performs all the jobs asked of him by mission control, and the punchline is that the astronaut’s one task is to feed the monkey with information.

Hodgson was said to have made the joke referencing right back Chris Smalling passing the ball to Tottenham winger Andros Townsend, to the latter could continue to tear Poland apart in his terrific display.

No complaint was made by either player and despite Townsend and England striker Wayne Rooney amongst others backing Hodgson, the British tabloids have whipped up a furor over the alleged joke.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Hodgson is livid

“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.”

Since the news broke on Thursday, several high-ranking figures within the game have jumped to Hodgson’s defense with FA Chairman Greg Dyke leading the charge.

“Roy Hodgson is a man of the highest integrity, an honorable man who is doing a great job with the England team,” Dyke said. “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. He has also explained the context in which he made his remarks.”

While Rooney Tweeted the following in defense of Hodgson:

Whatever you make of Hodgson’s joke or comments, the context it was used in seems to back up that no intent to racially abuse any of his players was apparent. Looking at Hodgson, how and why would he ever do that?

LAFC selects Urena, 4 others in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.

Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.

The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.

Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.

LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.

The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.

WATCH LIVE: Three Premier League matches

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Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.

Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.

Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

FIFA bans Colombia midfielder Cardona 5 games for gesture

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.

FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.

Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”

Spurs’ Alderweireld won’t return until February

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Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.

That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.

Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.