Hodgson prepared for important year

England manager Roy Hodgson insists 2013, the 150th anniversary of the Football Association, will be "vitally important" to give the national team the chance to compete for the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Hodgson, speaking at the launch of the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations at London's Connaught Rooms, also has friendlies against Scotland, Brazil and the Republic of Ireland to prepare for.

"The first thing we have to do is qualify for the World Cup, that's vitally important. And when we qualify we have to give a good account of ourselves in Brazil and once you are there you have a chance of winning it, who knows?," he said.

"We have very good young players coming into the game and showing they do have the ability to shoulder the burden and hopefully we will have a good blend with experienced players as well."

FA chairman David Bernstein said the organisation will remain at the heart of the game in years to come despite "occasional frustrations" such as World Cup bid failures. Bernstein also said the lessons of past tragedies should never be forgotten, and stressed the FA's commitment to equality after a year of turmoil in 2012 caused by the John Terry racism case.

He said: "150 years ago a group of people met on this site and they changed the world by producing the first laws of the game. Throughout that extraordinary journey the FA continued to sit at its heart.

"Despite occasional frustrations we have always and will continue to our play our full part in influencing the development of football in UEFA and FIFA. Even after 150 years there remains a simple beauty to the universality of football - from Wembley to parks football a single unbreakable thread runs through.

"The bedrock of English football are the more than 2million people who play football every week.

"Women's football is third biggest participation sport in the country, disability football is the seventh biggest.

"We have experienced terrible tragedies including Hillsborough and Valley Parade and these events, their victims and their lessons must never be forgotten. They are an indelible part of our story. We are also committed to equality and inclusion."

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