By Duncan Shallard-Brown 

According to the BBC, nearly 10,000 English fans are expected to travel to Russia to support the Three Lions, who begin their campaign on Monday against Tunisia. MPs, have cautioned that there are a number of factors those travelling should bear in mind to ensure their own safety, in particular outside of the cities where England are playing and on non-match days.

LGBT fans have previously been identified as one of the groups most at risk in Russia, due to the laws around the promotion of homosexuality that were introduced in 2013. The tournament’s anti-discrimination chief has dismissed these fears, alongside those over racism, which has been an issue at club level in Russian football in the past, as propaganda.

However, Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said that while the Russian authorities are ultimately responsible for the safety of football fans during the World Cup, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has “a duty to offer consular support to all UK football fans making the trip to Russia”. The Foreign Office will be providing mobile embassies in cities where England play, though not elsewhere, in an effort to provide full assistance to British fans. They say they have been planning for two years with numerous partners including the police, FA and Football Supporters Federation.

There are number of sources of advice for those travelling, including the ‘Be on the Ball’ guide issued by the Foreign Office, which sets out 11 top tips for the World Cup. This includes following the advice of local authorities and respecting the local laws and customs, stating out that excessive alcohol consumption by fans will not be tolerated. It also points out that the European Health Insurance card is not valid in Russia and that rather than a visa, all visitors will require a ‘Fan ID’, which can be applied for once you have an official ticket and must be secured before travelling. 

In addition, the Football Supporters’ Federation have written a blog for LGBT fans who will be in Russia this summer while Kick it Out produced a series of videos during last year’s Confederations Cup, also held in Russia and traditionally seen as the trial run for the World Cup.

Ultimately, Russia will be in the spotlight facing unprecedented attention for the duration of the tournament which should benefit anyone who fears discrimination on grounds of race, sexuality or any other factors. Furthermore the police are likely to clamp down on those trying to initiate violence such as that seen at the 2016 European Championship. Nonetheless, it still makes sense to follow the advice set out in the various sources above so you have the best possible experience at the world’s biggest sporting event.