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World Cup 2018: What England fans going to Russia should know

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image captionRussia will host 31 other teams in the 21st Fifa World Cup

Thousands of England fans are expected to go to Russia for the 2018 World Cup which starts on 14 June. Here are some key questions they may want to know the answer to.

Will they need a visa?

Ordinarily, UK visitors to Russia would need a visa which can take up to four weeks to process.

But football fans who have official tickets for the match won't need to get one.

Instead they will be issued with a Fan ID which takes 72 hours to process and should be carried at all times.

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The Fan ID will expire on 25 July.

Visitors will not be able to leave Russia if their Fan ID or visa has expired and they could be made to pay a fine, attend court and be banned from returning to the country.

What else will they need?

A passport which has been signed and has more than six months to run is an absolute necessity.

This will also be needed to get into matches.

Health insurance is also a big one, as the European Health Insurance Card doesn't apply in Russia.

Travellers will also need to fill in a migration card upon arrival, half of which is kept by the authorities and the other half to be kept by the visitor and returned to customs officials when leaving Russia.

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How safe will it be?

Political tensions with Russia have escalated in recent months with the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, which the UK government has blamed on the Russian authorities.

The Foreign Office said visitors "should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment" and is advising them to be vigilant, avoid protests or demonstrations and not to comment publicly on political developments.

When it comes to the football, the authorities are keen to avoid repeats of scenes in Marseille at Euro 2016, when English fans were attacked by their Russian counterparts in the stadium and the streets.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionEngland fans were charged by Russian fans in the stadium in Marseille at Euro 2016

British police will be in Russia throughout the tournament and the British embassy will also have a presence on match days in the host cities.

The Foreign Office said five British teams have played European matches in Russia since 2016 with "no significant issues reported", and England fans are "encouraged to be good guests".

An extra warning has been issued to LGBT travellers.

The advice says: "Although same-sex sexual activity has been decriminalised in Russia since 1993, it is strongly understood and advised that you do not publicly display your sexuality, but this is up to the individual."

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe Foreign Office is advising LGBT travellers against publicly displaying their sexuality while people are urged to avoid protests and demonstrations in general

It also warns against hailing taxis in the street and says visitors should instead book them through hotels or official apps.

Petty crime should also be considered, with valuables kept hidden, while visitors should also be wary of groups of women and children begging.

What security will there be at the stadiums?

Enhanced security will be in force at the stadiums and fans are encouraged to give themselves plenty of time to get through the checks.

The grounds will typically open up to three hours before kick-off and fans will be released in phases after the match, which could take up to an hour.

image copyrightReuters
image captionRussian security services will be joined by British police on match days

Fans will need their match ticket, Fan ID and passport to gain entry.

Bags will not be allowed into the ground, they will be taken away and returned at the end.

Banned items include alcohol, weapons and large flags or banners which have not been given prior consent.

How much travelling will be involved?

image copyrightReuters
image captionEngland play Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on 24 June

England fans following their team across Russia can expect to clock up the miles.

The group stage will see England tackle Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June, play Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on 24 June and battle Belgium in Kaliningrad on 28 June.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe Volgograd Arena stands beside the River Volga

Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, is in the south west of Russia, about 600 miles (970km) from Moscow, which is a two-hour flight or up to 20 hours on the train.

Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's fifth biggest city, is about 260 miles (420km) from Moscow, with an approximate travel time of 60 minutes by plane or up to five hours by train.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionEngland take on Belgium in Kaliningrad on 28 June

Kailinigrad is about 770 miles (1,235km) from Moscow and travel by road and rail requires crossing through Belarus and Lithuania which could cause border delays.

Official match ticket and Fan ID holders can apply for free travel on selected trains and fans are required to register their arrival within 24 hours at each city, which can be done at the hotel.

Fan ID holders can also get free travel in public transport on match days in the host cities.

Should England qualify from their group, they could play in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, or Samara.

How much might it cost?

According to Numbeo, which compiles figures based on data submitted by residents, the cost of living in Russia is about 45% cheaper than in the UK.

So once you are there and have paid for flights, hotels and match tickets, the rest of the trip needn't be too costly.

A typical fast-food meal will cost about £3.60 and domestic beer can cost as little as 84p for 0.5l, although an imported one could be twice the price, while a regular cappuccino would set you back about £1.50.

image copyrightEPA
image captionThere should be plenty of opportunities to buy World Cup merchandise in Russia

A three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant should cost about £24 while a mid-range bottle of wine can cost about £4 in the markets.

Transport could be relatively cheap with a Fan ID as there is free public transport on match days and free trains between the host cities.

Currently, £1 will buy about 80 Russian Rubles.

Related Topics

  • Russia

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