The prospect of following England into the knock-out stages of the tournament was probably already enticing enough even before our progress was confirmed by an emphatic and stylish 6-1 victory.
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?
Investigations by your Free Lions team have led us to conclude that the answer is no, it’s not too late. Ok, flights might now be a bit pricey, and accommodation might be more plentiful in Moscow than in Rostov-on-Don should our round of sixteen game take us there. But when it comes to the central question of getting into the country, it turns out that getting a Fan ID (which will act as a visa to secure entry into Russia) is free of charge, very quick, and crucially – contrary to the assumptions of many - does not require the purchase of a ticket.
Any England fan who fancies coming to the World Cup can apply online for a Fan ID.
You’ll need to submit your passport details and related information, upload a good passport-style photograph and – here’s the important bit – the reference number of a ticket. (That’s the number that appears underneath the individual’s name on the left hand side of the ticket itself.) That ticket however does not have to have been bought by you, it can be any ticket – and as the Free Lions investigation has discovered, the same ticket reference number can be used for any number of Fan ID applications. Even more remarkable, the ticket reference can even be from a ticket that has already been used to attend a game that has already taken place. There’s no long wait for the post to arrive with your Fan ID either – literally within minutes of submitting a successful application, an electronic version of your Fan ID will arrive, and this is sufficient to enable you to enter the country.
The hard copy of the Fan ID – the laminated version complete with lanyard that is required to enter any stadium – can then be collected from one of the many Fan ID centres in each of the host cities.
Of course, to enter a stadium to watch a game, you’ll still need a valid match ticket too; but as with all recent World Cup tournaments, even those fans without match tickets can find other ways to watch the games, such as the FIFA fan zones set up in every venue, and still be part of the World Cup party.
Where there’s a will…
Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this blog.