England football team manager Gareth Southgate is backing detailed government travel advice for fans travelling to Russia to attend the World Cup.
Top travel and safety tips to help fans travelling to Russia for the tournament have been put together by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under the theme ‘Be on the Ball’.
The Football Supporters’ Federation has also published a guide to the tournament, which kicks off on Thursday and runs until July 15, and what fans can expect while in Russia. This includes detailed sections on each of the 11 host cities.
Overall FCO travel advice warns of “the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time” due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia.
“If you’re currently in Russia or due to travel in the coming weeks, you’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.
“While the British Embassy in Moscow is not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice.”
The England team will be based in Repino, near St Petersburg. They will play Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24, and Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28.
Should England progress beyond the group stages, the team could play in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don or Samara.
Travel between Moscow and Volgograd – formerly known as Stalingrad – takes two hours flying time or up to 20 hours by train.
Nizhny Novgorod, previously known as Gorky, is one hour 30 minutes flying time from Moscow or up to five hours by train.
It takes two hours to fly from Moscow to Kaliningrad or up to 20 ours by train, which passes through Belarus and Lituania. Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave located on the Baltic coast between Lithuania and Poland
“For those travelling by road into Kaliningrad, border controls can result in delays of up to six hours. The Kaliningrad Stadium is not within easy walking distance of the city,” the FCO said.
The FCO added: “The government’s priority is the safety and security of British fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup.
“The overwhelming majority of visits to Russia are trouble-free. Since 2016, five British teams have played European matches in Russia, with no significant issues reported.
“However, we encourage British nationals to be good guests wherever they travel in the world, and to do their research before they travel to understand local laws and customs, so they can have a safe and enjoyable trip.
“We continue to work with the Russian authorities. Co-operation is in place between the UK and Russian police to help ensure the safety of British nationals, which includes visits by the UK police to Russia and visits by the Russian police to the UK. British police will be in Russia for the tournament.”
The British Embassy will have a presence on match days in all of the cities where the England team will be playing.
British nationals needing help or advice can contact consular officers by telephone 24/7 by calling +7 495 956 7200 (in Russia) or 020 7008 1500 (from the UK).
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has also issued advice for fans travelling to Russia.
The FCO warned that public attitudes towards LGBT+ people are less tolerant in Russia than in the UK while both FIFA and the Russian Football Union have been clear that racist abuse will not be tolerated during the tournament. Referees now have the power to call an end to a game if racist chanting is heard.
“There will be an increased demand on flights, trains and hotels, so you should book early to avoid disappointment,” the FCO added.
“Few of the host cities have experience of hosting international events like the World Cup, and all are in the process of building new stadiums and transport infrastructure.
“You should note that the distance between each of them is considerable and will involve long journeys.”
More: Be on the Ball: World Cup 2018 in Russia [External]
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