UK & World News

  • 17 February 2014, 10:00

World Cup: Hodgson In Brazil Charm Offensive

England manager Roy Hodgson is to visit the venue of his team's first World Cup match to try to patch up differences with Brazilian officials who felt he had been rude about their city.

Before the draw for the finals was made, Hodgson was asked about the possibility of playing in the city.

He said ideally it would be "a place to avoid" because it is hot and humid and is a four-hour flight from the England team's base in Rio de Janeiro - remarks which left Brazilian officials feeling he had been rude.

The mayor of Manaus, Arthur Virgilio Neto, called him uneducated and said England were "not welcome".

Since then the Football Association has mounted a charm offensive.

Hodgson wrote to the mayor, saying: "We are extremely happy to be visiting your city as part of our World Cup experience; I know the city of Manaus will be a fine location for our team to be based ahead of the Group Stage match against Italy.

"I would like to put on record that I am looking forward to experiencing your city, learning about the culture and history and of course meeting the people!

"It promises to be one of the highlights of the tournament."

It seems to have worked.

The mayor told Sky News: "The misunderstanding was just that. A very simple misunderstanding.

"We respect England. We respect the English team. Personally I admire Rooney a lot."

And just for good measure he tipped England to be among the teams most likely to win the tournament.

In case some extra diplomacy is required Britain's ambassador to Brazil will be accompanying the FA party, and Foreign Secretary William Hague is stopping off in Manaus on his way to a meeting in Brasilia.

The Arena Amazonia is not quite finished. Officials say it is 97% ready.

But it has come at a cost. Three construction workers died while building it - the most recent death was earlier this month.

Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke had no concerns about the stadium during a visit to Manaus on Sunday.

He was, however, tackled by reporters about the climate.

He told them: "We are not stupid people. If the referee has the feeling that it (the temperature) is too high, he would make sure that the players are not in danger and make sure they can stop playing and they can drink.

"We played, in Beijing at the Olympic Games, the final at noon time. It was very, very hot in the stadium and the game took place and they played for 90 minutes."

Fifa has already agreed to delay the kick off until 6pm local time when it should be slightly less hot and humid.

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