England fans better off in Brazil's most visited cities
In a country with a population of almost 200 million and no more than 10m having some grasp of English, those that come to support Roy Hodgson’s team next summer will experience an easier stay if they are based in cities used to receiving visitors, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. That is the opinion of the British ambassador to Brazil, Alex Ellis - a Swindon fan and admittedly “crazy for football”.
“It is true the level of English speaking here is not very good. I think it is best to go to the most visited cities,” he said. “That is also why British institutions are investing heavily in teaching the language in Brazil. But there is a lot of diversity here, places that are completely different from anything else. There is more than football, samba and beaches. The English should see that.”
Ellis told FourFourTwo that England fans should take care when they visit Brazil, but added: “I say bring them on. Any city will be fine and England needs a big support.”
Friday’s draw could see England fans having to travel distances up to 3,000km to get to group games; trips which can take up to four hours by air. Brazil is roughly seven times larger than South Africa. The British Embassy says more than 150,000 British nationals visited Brazil in 2012 and “the vast majority of visits were trouble free”.
Earlier this week, England manager Hodgson admitted he would rather not play in cities of high temperature, such as Manaus. The host city's mayor Arthur Virgilio hit back by saying he doesn’t want the English to come to his town because he’d like to see sides of better football skills and more polite coaches.
But Ellis insisted: “That is just football talk. We will be welcome if we go there.”
The ambassador believes Brazilians and the English have one big thing in common: “We are all mad about football. We weep, we scream for football.
"The World Cup will be a good opportunity to end some stereotypes. The English can have a drink, but hooliganism is in the past. We had zero supporters detained in South Africa in 2010 and zero at Euro 2012."
He added that England has helped with expertise around the World Cup too, particularly with technology for removable seating and stewarding operations, and diplomatically answered that Brazil are the favourites to win the World Cup.