By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With under a month to go until half a million World Cup fans descend upon the city of Rio, many foreign consulates have been issuing advice and preparing to help those who encounter problems during their stay. Rio is hosting a total of seven games, featuring some of the tournament’s strongest teams and the all important final so thousands of people from all over the world will be heading to the city.
The matches in Rio de Janeiro are: Argentina versus Bosnia, on June 15th, Spain versus Chile, on June 18th, Belgium versus Russia, on June 22nd and Ecuador versus France, on June 25th, will all take place in Rio. In the knock-out rounds a second round tie, on June 28th, a quarter-final, on July 4th and the final, on June 13th, will also be played at the Maracanã.
Although the USA team seems unlikely to play in Rio, and Americans are not known as huge football (soccer) fans, the American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Consulate General, Rio de Janeiro has been very active in preparation for the World Cup travelers.
“The U.S. Mission in Brazil has been involved in extensive preparation for serving all of the U.S. citizens resident and visiting for the World Cup,” Consul William Dowers, Chief of the ACS in Rio told The Rio Times. “We have trained our staff to assist U.S. citizens while in Brazil. We have also worked with consular staff in other diplomatic missions to prepare for the thousands of anticipated visitors.”
With the England team training at São João fort in Urca, many British nationals are expected to visit Rio. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has created the campaign “Be on the Ball,” reminding visitors to plan their travel, accommodation and insurance in advance and to take precautions against robberies while here.
Having used the 2013 Confederations Cup as a learning exercise, FCO ambassador Alex Ellis seems well prepared. “Last year we provided assistance to British nationals – from those who were hospitalized to those whose passports were lost, stolen or damaged. We look forward to supporting the traveling football fans as they explore this beautiful country.”
The consulate will be operating at the usual hours during the tournament, but if visitors have any inquiries for consular staff before travel or while in Brazil, you can ask questions via Twitter @FCOtravel. Travelers can also keep up-to-date with the latest FCO travel advice by signing up to the FCO’s Facebook page.
Germany is a nation famed for its footballing prowess and love of travel and it is estimated that about 5,000 Germans will travel to Brazil for the World Cup. The newly opened German consulate in Rio will be welcoming fans to stop by to see their wonderful view of Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer.
The German foreign office will also operate a ‘Fanbotschaft’ (embassy of the fans), a mobile structure that will move around the country behind the national team. This will connect fans and local institutions, and attend to problems quickly. A special site, www.brasilienwm.de has also been created with all kinds of information for German fans preparing to come to Brazil.
However not every consulate has prepared this much advice for fans. Yuji Nishi, a 30-year old television journalist from Tokyo, is heading to Rio to watch reigning champions Spain play Chile. So far he has been unable to find specific information on the Japanese consulate website.
“My biggest concerns are around personal safety, you hear so many stories about crime in Brazil that it’s hard to not be a little concerned. Luckily I am staying with friends who live in Rio who have already given me a lot of information and have said they will help me if I have any problems.”
As long time football foes and neighbors to Brazil, it is expected that thousands of Argentinians will come to Rio to see their team play in the group stage. As fellow South Americans, with a better understanding of the culture here, including the dangers of crime, the consulate’s advice for fans is more focused on day to day problems they might encounter.
With many fans expected to make the journey by bus or car, they are reminding them to ensure they have all the required travel and identification documents for their vehicles and also to pack mosquito repellent.
Following are the consulates for the teams expected in Rio (or with a large fan-base here):
American Consulate: Avenida Presidente Wilson, 147, Centro. T: (21) 3823-2000
British Consulate: Praia do Flamengo 284, Flamengo. T: (21) 2555-9600
German Consulate: Av. Presidente Antônio Carlos 58, Centro. T: (21) 2554-0004
Japanese Consulate: Praia Do Flamengo 200, Flamengo. T: (21) 3461-9595
Argentinean Consulate: Praia de Botafogo, 228 slj. 201, Botafogo. Tel: (21) 2553-1646
Spanish Consulate: Rua Lauro Muller 116, room 1601/02, Botafogo. T: (21) 2229-0160
Chilean Consulate: Praia do Flamengo Nº 344, Flamengo. T: (021) 3579-9658
Belgian Consulate: Rua Lauro Muller 116, Botafogo, T: (21) 2229-0160
Russian Consulate: Rua Prof Azevedo Marques 50, Leblon. T: 21 2274-0097