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FIFA's No. 2: Brazil stadium will be ready for England

Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke has told ITV News the still-under-construction stadium in Brazil where England will kick off their 2014 World Cup campaign against Italy will be ready for the tournament.

The Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, which is still under construction, is scheduled to host England's opener against Italy on 14 June. Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Mr Valcke was among a group of football officials meeting the media at the venue in Manaus, which will today be visited by England boss Roy Hodgson and FA officials.

Hodgson will be introduced to the Brazilian officials with whom he fell out over his comments - made before England were drawn to play there - that the humid city was a "place to avoid".

Roy Hodgson has patched up relations with Manaus officials after his pre-draw comments about the city. Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Hodgson has since written to the mayor of Manaus saying his team's visit to the city will be "one of the highlights of the tournament".

Brazil mayor to 'welcome England' after Hodgson spat

The mayor of the Brazilian city where England will kick off their World Cup campaign has played down a spat with manager Roy Hodgson and declared the Three Lions "welcome in the Amazon".

Manaus mayor Arthur Virgilio Neto had originally said England were "not welcome" after Hodgson described the humid city as a "place to avoid" before FIFA's draw was made.

The England boss, who is today visiting the city's still-in-construction stadium, has since apologised and Mr Neto told ITV News the squabble was "just a misunderstanding".

ITV News' Brazil Correspondent Nick Ravenscroft reports from Manaus:

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Hodgson and Manaus make up ahead of World Cup

Roy Hodgson has attempted to make amends with the city of Manaus ahead of the World Cup following a public spat with the mayor last December.

The England manager previously said that Manaus, renowned for its heat and humility, was the place to avoid during the World Cup, much to the annoyance of mayor Arthur Birgilo who released a statement saying England would not be welcome.

With England due to face Italy in the opening game in Manaus, Hodgson attempted to defuse the row by writing a letter to the city's governor Omar Aziz.

Roy Hodgson has attempted to make amends with the city of Manaus. Credit: PA Wire

Hodgson said he was looking forward to experiencing the city to learn more about the culture, history and people of Manaus, in what promises to be "one of the highlights of the tournament" for England.

Officials said they were now planning a warm reception for the England team when they arrive in June.

For the latest World Cup news visit ITV Sport's World Cup site

Hodgson speaks to Walcott about knee injury

The England manager Roy Hodgson has revealed he has spoken to Theo Walcott after the Arsenal forward was ruled out for at least six months with a knee injury, meaning he will miss the World Cup in Brazil.

He told the FA's website:

I spoke with Theo and just wanted to express my disappointment to him.

It is a blow for him personally of course, and for both Arsenal and England.

We had quite a lengthy conversation and it is such a shame that we have lost a player of his calibre for the World Cup, he has been incredibly unfortunate and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Having worked with him for two years as England Manager I know the character he has, and I know he will come back even stronger from this setback.

Hodgson: Where in Rio is there not a favela up the road?

Roy Hodgson has dismissed safety fears surrounding next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Hodgson shrugged off concerns over the proximity of England's training camp to a favela saying: "Where in Rio is there not a favela up the road?".

The England manager said he had every "faith" that Fifa and the Brazilian government would ensure the safety of players and fans.

For the latest World Cup news, visit ITV Sport

Hodgson wants to keep players in 'family environment'

Roy Hodgson has said he plans to keep England's players in a normal family environment until the pressures of the World Cup begin.

England players' partners became a controversial feature of the 2006 World Cup, with critics arguing their presence became a distraction, but Hodgson said he intends to allow the players to see their families.

Hodgson admitted the training pitch needed to be improved "enormously", but insisted he was generally very happy with the state of the training facilities and the surrounding area.

For the latest World Cup news visit ITV Sport

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World Cup draw is 'like opening a box of chocolates'

England manager Roy Hodgson has likened the World Cup draw to opening a box of chocolates.

He was paying lip-service to Tom Hanks' character from the 1994 film Forrest Gump, who said: "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get".

He also revealed that he is more concerned about the draw of venues than the teams England will face:

Lineker: Hodgson 'neither a racist nor a comedian'

Former England striker Gary Lineker has tweeted that the national team's manager, Roy Hodgson, is "neither a racist nor a comedian" after criticism of a joke he made at half-time during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

Anti-racist campaigners back FA on Hodgson joke

Kick It Out, the campaign against racism in football, have backed the FA's statement in support of England coach Roy Hodgson after his half-time joke during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

The Kick It Out campaign has backed the FA's statement of support for England coach Roy Hodgson Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The campaigners said they were "pleased" the matter had been investigated swiftly by the FA, adding: "If there has been no complaint on the back of the investigation then the matter can only be deemed as concluded."

FA backs Roy Hodgson over half-time joke

The Football Association has given its "full support" to England football coach Roy Hodgson after he was criticised for a joke he made at half-time during a World Cup qualifier with Poland.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke has backed England football coach Roy Hodgson Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FA Chairman Greg Dyke said 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".

In a statement on the FA website, Dyke added: “He has made clear there was no intent to say anything inappropriate, and he was certainly not making any comments with any racist connotation. Importantly, he has apologised for any unintended offence that may have been taken."

The FA said it had not received any complaints from the players after talking to the squad "extensively" to determine whether they had any problems with Hodgson's behaviour.

“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," Dyke said.

"He has also explained the context in which he made his remarks."

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