Written by Ollie Phelan
When the draw for the quarter finals for the Champions’ League was made, the most illustrious names in club football emerged from the hat: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Leicester City. Whilst the current Premier League champions are experiencing a disappointing domestic season, they are proving to be the brightest British star still burning in European football’s elite tournament.
After dispatching Sevilla in the previous round in a dramatic tie of (Craig) Shakespearean proportions, Leicester, and their travelling hordes of supporters, will descend upon the capital of to take on Atlético Madrid on 12 April.
The sunny plazas of Madrid have a lot to offer travelling fans. Beer is cheap and spirits are high. Yet, therein lies temptation. Whilst away, overzealous fans can fall foul of foreign laws and have their trip ruined.
Lucky for them then that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has put together a handy list of tips and advice so that they can be #TravelAware.
During the day, take care to watch out for pickpockets, and not to over-drink. In certain areas of Spain, drinking on the streets is illegal and you can be arrested for doing so. If you do get asked for identification by the police, offer it up. They legally have the power to take you into the police station until they can verify your identity. What’s more, it’s worth bearing in mind that ignoring or disobeying a police officer is a criminal offence, and that even possessing a small quantity of drugs can lead to arrest and detention. British charity Prisoners Abroad helped 145 British citizens who were imprisoned in Spain last year, and 57% were held on drugs charges.
When collecting your tickets in the centre of town, take particular care with your belongings as it has been known for pickpockets to operate in this area.
Fans have various options for getting to the stadium. The Estadio Vicente Calderón, where Atletico play, is well located with lots of public transport links. It can be reached by underground on line 5 (the light green one). Fans should get off at Puerta de Toledo underground stop and walk down Paseo de los Pontones to the stadium. Bus number 17 runs from Plaza Mayor in the centre of Madrid and fans should get off at the bus stop in Paseo de los Pontones.
Fans also have the option to walk to the stadium en masse with police protection. Those who prefer this option should meet at Plaza Mayor (the main square) at 18.30. The walk will take approximately half an hour.
Arriving at the stadium early is a necessity. Spanish stadiums are known for bottlenecks around the turnstiles. Gates open between two hours and an hour and a half before kick-off, so there is plenty of time to avoid the crowds. However, if you do get caught in the crush, be sure to keep your ticket secure and listen to instructions from stewards. Leicester City stewards will be present at some checkpoints to assist fans. Entry to the stadium for Leicester fans will be through gates 7, 9 and 10.
It is also worth taking a note of the address of the British consulate in Madrid, who will be able to offer advice (but can’t just get you out of jail) or other problems. If you are detained, they will be able to put you in touch with Prisoners Abroad who can offer further advice and support. However, due to Easter holidays, the consulate will be closed until the Tuesday after the game, the 18th April.
One final, but easy, precaution to take is to buy , even if you’re there for one night, and bring your . This can prevent surprisingly huge bills. The FCO calculates that the cost of a broken hip, along with flights, can be up to £15,000 in a Spanish hospital!
Staying safe is simple. With a few precautionary measures, and a little common sense, there is no reason to worry. Enjoy the sun, enjoy the football, and enjoy Vardy’s last minute winner. You wouldn’t want an avoidable problem to spoil that!