England manager Roy Hodgson writes diplomatic letter to Manaus mayor
Roy Hodgson has written to the mayor of Manaus in a bid to improve relations between the England camp and the Brazilian city ahead of this summer's World Cup.
Just a few days after describing Manaus as "the place ideally to avoid", Hodgson's England were drawn to play their first game of the World Cup against Italy in the Amazonian city.
Hodgson wanted to avoid playing in Manaus because of the extreme temperatures and the humidity levels, which can rise to over 90 per cent.
Manaus' mayor Arthur Virgilio Neto reacted furiously to Hodgson's comments at the time. He said England were "not welcome" in Manaus and he later accused the 66-year-old of being "uneducated".
Hodgson extended an olive branch to Manaus after the draw, saying he was looking forward to playing in the northern Brazilian city and a fortnight ago he sent a letter to the mayor in order to further smooth things over.
In the letter, Hodgson writes: "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 am particularly keen to make contact with you following last year's media reports about the England v Italy match in Manaus.
"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 for us."
Letters were also sent to Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, where England will play their other two group matches against Costa Rica and Uruguay, respectively.
Hodgson will visit Manaus for the first time next month two days before a coaches' workshop in Florianopolis.
Hodgson is expected to take a look at the Arena Amazonia where England will take on Italy on June 14, and he will also inspect the hotel and training facilities which his squad will use during their three-night stay in Manaus.
Around 3,000 England supporters are expected to attend the Italy game.
England fans must apply for their tickets before FIFA's deadline of February 7.