May 29, 2018 / 8:07 AM / 25 days ago

Soccer: England fans face long, costly World Cup trip to Russia

LONDON (Reuters) - England fans can expect to rack up the air miles and take a major hit to their bank balances to follow their side at the World Cup, but spare a thought for the most ardent of Uruguay supporters, who must make the longest trip for their opener.

England have been drawn in Group G of the June-July tournament in Russia and will play in Volgograd (v Tunisia) on June 18, Nizhny Novgorod (v Panama) on June 24 and finally Kaliningrad (v Belgium) on June 28, before fans can even consider a Round of 16 encounter in either Moscow or Rostov.

According to research carried out by Virgin Media and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), England fans could end up spending five thousand pounds ($6,638.50) and travelling more than 3,400 miles (5,472 km) by air to watch the group fixtures.

That would make a total flight time of about 12 hours and 15 minutes, ranking them 22nd among the 32 teams in Russia.

Uruguay fans will, however, spend 25 hours and 39 minutes on three different flights just to travel from Montevideo to Ekaterinburg to watch Luiz Suarez and his South American team mates take on Egypt on June 15.

Fans of Peru wanting to watch their team play at Saransk, Ekaterinburg and Sochi in the group stage will spend about 36 hours — the most time among those travelling by plane to first reach Russia then watch the matches.

Uruguay and Peru fans will spend nearly five times more time travelling throughout the tournament compared to their counterparts from world champions Germany, who are expected to spend about seven hours and five minutes in the air.

“England fans are renowned for their fantastic support at tournaments, and even across the vast distances between Russian cities the die-hard fans will be there, following the Three Lions,” FSF chief executive Kevin Miles said in a statement.

“Whether by road, rail or air, thousands will be there every step of the way supporting Gareth Southgate’s men this summer, hopefully all the way to the final in Moscow on July 15th.”

But a majority of England fans in Russia will struggle to ask locals for directions, having not bothered to learn the language, with 95 percent of respondents saying they had practised only a couple of words or none at all for their trip.

($1 = 0.7532 pounds)

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien

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