World Cup 2014: England’s travelling fans face language trouble in Sao Paulo, but spirits are high

 

If England should die, remember this. That there’s some corner of Sao Paulo that will be forever Grimsby, Ipswich, Doncaster, Wolverhampton, Havant and Waterlooville, and the list goes on.

LIVE: Follow the latest news as England play Uruguay, plus Colombia v Ivory Coast and Japan v Greece

Brazil’s beating cultural and economic heart is not like London, or Rio de Janeiro. There is no Copacabana or Trafalgar Square to speak of.

Rather the Three Lions are moving like ants around a complicated concrete formicary, but even in one of the world’s largest urban metropolises, they are a near-ubiquitous presence.

Along the grand Avenida Paulista they are turning their tourist maps in confused circles before giving up and heading to the nearest bar. In the winding streets of Jardim Paulista, Rua Inglaterra runs parallel to Rua Polonia, and leads on to Rua Italia, Rua Franca and Rua Belgica (all turnings off the Avenida Europa), To the west, via Ruas Venezuela and Nicaragua is Rua Urugai. Compared  to Inglaterra, it’s a narrow and rather parochial little alleyway.

At the official England fan hub yesterday they queued from 10am, despite it not opening until two. “We’re just here to get our tickets,” said Dave Webb, whose vital statistics  are 40, Wolves, fifth major tournament. “But the bar’d better be open.”

The 64-year-old Steve Haslam, who is well into his fourth decade of following England around the world, has come straight from the heat of Manaus. “It’s fine, I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but nobody speaks English  do they?”

He is right that life in Brazil is not straightforward for England’s non-Portuguese travelling army, and all other non-Portuguese speaking travelling armies, too.

“You come out at the station, or the airport, and they’re all there,” said Ian Holme (28, Leeds, only Ukraine/Poland so far). “They’ve got ‘Volunteer’ on their back in English. I don’t think they even know what that means.”

But the main word on everyone’s lips is a Spanish one – “Suarez” – and whether or not arguably the Premiership’s finest player is fit, unfit, half-fit, or somewhere in between.

“I don’t think he’s fit, he can’t be,” said John Elliott, (54, Charlton Athletic, every one since Portugal 2004, except South Africa).

“The jury’s out. But even if he is, you know in the Costa Rica game [who beat Urugay 3 -1], the Uruguay defence couldn’t handle the pace could they. Look at our players, Sturridge, Sterling, Welbeck, they’ve all got pace. They’ll find it difficult.”

“I hope we win, I really do, but I think maybe a draw.” said his friend Trevor Bradford (also Charlton Athletic, every one since Portugal 2004, except South Africa).

They landed at Sao Paulo International and in collecting their tickets and getting directions in to town, they recruited the services of lanyard wearing Fifa delegate.

“I’m sure he was very busy but he was very helpful. Telling us where to go, giving us the information and all that.”

“There are edgy times,” said Rachel Sutton, (44, Oldham, England football virgin). “I’m sure it’ll be a great tournament, but it’s the second game and it’s already ‘must win’. And it’s not going to be easy.”

Mark Ridley of Newark, 51, deep into a large bottle of the local lager with his shirt off in the just-before-midday sun, said “England will do it. Three nil.”

For his friend, Andy Stonebridge: “Last time, England played well. Roy picked the team we wanted. We backed off for their goals but we were very confident. England, two-nil. And Rooney will score.”

News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television The BBC have commissioned a series of programmes doing away with high-production values, commentary, script or drama
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable