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England manager Roy Hodgson in Brazilian charm offensive

The Arena da Amazônia is 97% complete
Action Images

The 66-year-old is to visit the venue of his team's first World Cup match in Manaus 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 said that the Amazonian city 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.

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

Since then, however, the Football Association has mounted a charm offensive which began with Hodgson writing 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 with the mayor recently telling Sky News that "the misunderstanding was just that. A very simple misunderstanding.  We respect England. We respect the English team. Personally I admire Rooney a lot."

In addition, 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.

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke had no concerns about the stadium – which officials say is 97% ready – during a visit to Manaus on Sunday.


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