Brazil minister says imperial history will help England in Manaus

Brazil's sports minister couldn't resist making a playful joke at England's expense regarding the weather in Manaus, where the Three Lions begin their World Cup campaign in what is set to be stifling heat.

Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo during a visit to the Pedro Basso stadium on February 19, 2014

Prior to last year's World Cup draw, England manager Roy Hodgson described Manaus as "a place to avoid".

However, England were drawn to play Italy in Manaus on in their opening World Cup group match on June 14.

It is a daunting assignment as humidity levels in the Amazon jungle can reach over 80 percent during the Brazilian winter, with England's players having little or no experience of playing in such conditions.

But Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo said British imperial history in South America, which included control of the now independent state of Guyana, would help England acclimatise.

"The weather of Manaus is not totally strange to the English, " Rebelo told a news conference in London on Tuesday. "It's tropical weather that the subjects of the Queen already knew when they had the Empire where the sun never set."

Hodgson, speaking after the draw, said: "It (Manaus) is in the middle of the Amazonian jungle and the temperatures and humidity are much, much greater than any other place in the country.

"I'm not even certain that Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia would have been jumping for joy if they were drawn there as it's a difficult place to play. "I've never known Brazil, for example, to play any of their home matches in Manaus."

However, his comments led to criticism from the city's mayor, Arthur Virgilio Neto, who said England were "not welcome" in Manaus and also accused Hodgson of being "uneducated".

However, Hodgson wrote to Neto, 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."

And last month, after visiting the Amazonas Arena in Manaus, Hodgson told the BBC: "It is hot here, but World Cups are played in the summer.

"It was hot (in 2010) in South Africa and it was very hot in America in '94," he reflected, having been coach of Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

About the author

Writer: AFP
Position: News agency