Travel companies have reported a surge in interest from football fans who want to join England’s World Cup party in Russia.
The Three Lions’ performances have left many supporters dreaming of lifting the coveted trophy on July 15 but their first two games were marked by lower turnouts than at previous tournaments.
But travel association Abta said its members had reported a spike in interest in packages for the World Cup, while a leading fan group has urged stay-at-home supporters “it’s not too late”.
And Russian authorities released new figures suggesting 2,000 more fans had applied for Fan IDs, which act as visas throughout the tournament, since it kicked off 12 days ago.
An Abta spokeswoman said: “Abta travel companies are reporting a spike in interest after England’s wins against Tunisia and Panama.
“If you have a valid ticket to one of the matches and have registered for a Fan ID, you won’t need a visa.
“If you don’t have a ticket and Fan ID, you will need a visa, fans should check the Foreign Office website for more information.”
And the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), which runs a fans’ embassy in host cities, said its investigations had shown England supporters could get a Fan ID even without buying a ticket, so long as they use a ticket reference from any genuine ticket for any match.
The FSF said: “So positive have been our experiences as fans in first Volgograd and then Nizhny Novgorod, friendly and welcoming hosts, great weather, a relaxed yet secure atmosphere, first class stadiums, unobtrusive policing – that there must now be hundreds, even thousands of fans back home starting to reconsider their original decision not to come to Russia for the World Cup.
“So: is it too late to decide to join the party?
“The answer is no, it’s not too late.”
The group warned flights may now be more expensive but stressed the Fan ID process was free and said any fans without match tickets could find places such as the Fifa fan fests to watch the game and soak up the atmosphere.
The Ministry of Communications in Russia, which is responsible for the Fan ID scheme, said there had been a total of 17,722 Fan IDs ordered from fans in Britain as of Monday, rising from 15,709 just before the World Cup started.
Fifa said some 34,000 tickets had been sold to fans with UK addresses, the same as before the tournament.
But world football’s governing body could not say how many of the more than 70,000 World Cup tickets that have been resold through official channels have gone to England fans.
The Three Lions play Belgium in Kaliningrad on Thursday but the ticket allocation through the Football Association was already oversubscribed.
The Foreign Office’s World Cup guidance can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/be-on-the-ball-world-cup-2018.