England 'ideal opponents' for Mineirao opener

BELO HORIZONTE - England should be invited to play Brazil to mark the opening of the Mineirao World Cup Stadium despite the animosity Brazilian FA President Ricardo Teixeira feels towards the English, Reuters has been told in an interview.

The stadium is undergoing reconstruction work worth 662 million Brazilian reais ($422m) ahead of the 2014 finals and England would provide the perfect opponents for the World Cup hosts, Sergio Barroso, state secretary in Minas Gerais, told Reuters at the ground.

The stadium, once the second-largest in Brazil with a record attendance of 132,000, is due to be completed in December next year as a state-of-the-art 65,000 all-seater showpiece and could stage the opening match of the World Cup finals.

England were involved in one of the greatest World Cup upsets when they were beaten 1-0 by the United States in the 1950 finals at the city's Independencia Stadium, which is also being rebuilt.

"We want England to play Brazil in a friendly in the opening match of the new stadium on February 8 2013 on the recognised date for FIFA friendlies," Barroso said.

"We know what Ricardo Teixeira has said about the English, but the opening of the new stadium is more than just what he has said and his view of England. I am speaking to him and I am going to ask him to invite England to play here.

"FIFA says it is all about fair play and the good of the game so lets see what Mr Teixeira will do about it.

"England was the birthplace of football and Brazil developed the game and there are very strong links between our two footballing countries."

Teixeira, who also sits on FIFA's Executive Committee, has been admonished by FIFA President Sepp Blatter for his public comments about England and its media, recently saying in an interview that the English "were pirates who could go to hell."


Teixeira was named in a British Parliamentary hearing by former England FA Chairman David Triesman as one of four FIFA Executive Committee members who suggested they would vote for England's bid for the 2018 finals if the price was right - although he was later cleared by an independent FA inquiry.

England lost out in the race to stage the finals to Russia.

On Friday, after Brazil's 12 World Cup cities were formally presented, Teixeira was involved in a spat with English journalists who wanted to ask him about his earlier comments.

"I do not talk to the English press," he shouted, and when asked why not, he replied, "Because they are corrupt."

Barroso admits that against that backdrop, and because of other demands surrounding the international calendar, it might be difficult to persuade Teixeira to ask England to come to play Brazil, but if that proposal fails, he has offered an alternative.

"As everyone knows a very famous match took place here in Belo Horizonte during the 1950 World Cup when the United States beat England 1-0," he added.

"To complete the circle and give England the chance of revenge, perhaps we could also invite the United States and England here for a friendly."

That match took place at the smaller Independencia stadium in the city, which was demo