Travelling World Cup fans to face rabies, hepatitis and drugs wars

The 2014 draw takes the England team to dangerous Brazilian cities, but the real trial will be reaching them

Related Topics

England football fans travelling to Brazil for the World Cup face an alarming range of dangers in the three host cities for the group stages next June. The team’s opponents – Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica – look challenging enough, but the venues themselves are daunting.

The first game against Italy will take place in the hot, steamy heart of the Amazon in Manaus on Saturday 14 June, (2am Sunday UK time). The NHS issues stern warnings about the range of threats to British travellers, including diphtheria, rabies and hepatitis. It also gives a specific caution about malaria in Manaus.

Attention then shifts to Sao Paulo for the match with Uruguay on 19 June. According to Western diplomats, it is the most dangerous city in Brazil. The US State Department warns that: “All areas of Greater Sao Paulo have a high rate of armed robbery of pedestrians and drivers at stoplights and during rush hour traffic”.

It also draws particular attention to “incarcerated drug lords” whose efforts to “exert their power outside of their jail cells have resulted in sporadic disruptions in the city, violence directed at the authorities, bus burnings, and vandalism at ATM machines, including the use of explosives”. Meanwhile the official Australian travel advice says: “Some armed groups in Sao Paulo have begun robbing patrons in restaurants”.

By comparison, the final group match against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on 24 June looks reasonably risk-free. But the logistics of travelling around South America’s largest nation, and finding accommodation, could prove a nightmare.

Those desperate to be in Brazil for the World Cup watched travel prices soar and availability evaporate within minutes of the draw for the group stages yesterday. As each of the 32 nations was picked out in turn, its supporters could identify the dates and venues of the three opening matches – and begin to search online for flights and hotels.

The resulting surge of bookings produced perhaps the biggest spike the travel industry has ever seen. The heaviest demand was from the large European nations – England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – and from the South American contingent, in particular Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

The Independent made test bookings for a range of flights and hotels just ahead of the draw, and checked prices once the fixtures for the first 48 games in the tournament were confirmed. On TAP Portugal – the only European airline serving Manaus – fares rose 15 per cent in an hour. Flying down to Rio – the team’s full-time base for however long they stay in the World Cup  – from London Heathrow on British Airways is selling at £2,070.

Normally, intense rivalry between the airlines of the major Continental European qualifiers – France, Holland, Germany, Spain and Italy – keeps a lid on fares to South America.  But home-country demand means far fewer seats are available for connecting passengers from England. The next issue facing fans is transport between the venues.

England fans face a journey of nearly 2,000 miles between Manaus and Sao Paulo. Domestic air fares started the day at reasonable levels, such as £119 for the two-and-a-half hour flight between Sao Paulo and Salvador, but more than doubled after the draw.

The Brazilian government has said it may allow airlines from elsewhere in South America to operate domestic flights, but a decision will be made only when the dust has settled. The alternative form of transport is the bus network – which also saves on accommodation – but the journey between Manaus and Sao Paulo is scheduled to take more than two days.

Finding hotel rooms could prove frustrating and expensive. Many hotels in the host cities have frozen availability for the duration of the tournament, while they take stock of likely demand.

Sao Paulo is likely to present the biggest challenge for accommodation. Although Brazil’s largest city has many thousands of hotel beds, England’s opponents are Uruguay – for whom the venue is merely a long-ish drive from Montevideo. Fans who are simply wanting to soak up the carnival atmosphere could do well to choose the final game in Group F, in which Bosnia take on Iran. Neither team is expected to be in contention to progress.

Millions of tickets have been sold, and the next tranche goes on sale on Sunday. Individual football associations, including England, will be given an allocation for their fans – but only eight per cent, which means barely 3,000 tickets for the opening England match. Already the touts are active, with prices of £1,000 or more.

Simon Calder is the Independent's Travel Correspondent

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Soft Developer (4.0, C#, Windows Services, Sockets, LINQ, WCF)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer (4.0, C#, Windows ...

C# Developer -Winforms, VB6 - Trading Systems - Woking

£1 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading financial software house with its He...

C #Programmer (.Net 4.0/4.5/ C#) -Hertfordshire-Finance

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C #Developer (.Net 4.0/4.5/ C#, A...

JQuery Developer JQuery, UI, Tomcat, Java - Woking

£1 per annum: Harrington Starr: JQuery Developer JQuery, UI, Tomcat, Java - Tr...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The 'caliphate'? We’ve heard Obama’s language of the Crusades before

Robert Fisk

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home