Hague’s new challenge: Helping England fans not get lost in Brazil
William Hague is in Brazil this week. He's visited Manaus, where England will play its opening game of the 2014 World Cup against Italy. And the Foreign Office has put out some comments from him.
These paragraphs are the usual dry fodder, but conceal hidden depths of meaning. Here's what Hague is saying – and what he really means…
"I am here in Manaus to discuss the preparations for hosting the England team. I know that British fans will get a great welcome here."
I am trying to persuade the Brazilian government not to keep backing Argentina over the Falklands dispute. But seeing as I'm here, I may as well address the football issue…
"Many people may not know that looking after British nationals abroad is one of the main responsibilities of the Foreign Office."
We have no money left to do anything other than basic consular work these days.
"We help tens of thousands of people each year who get into some form of difficulty overseas."
The British people are more or less incapable of looking after themselves abroad, so we have institutionalised a way of looking after them.
"In four months' time thousands of British nationals will travel to Brazil for the World Cup – possibly the largest number of British people to ever visit Brazil at one time."
The Brazilians won't know what hit them.
"I have no doubt that Brazil will host a fantastic World Cup, and we expect the vast majority of British visitors to have a trouble-free visit."
There's always one, or two, or several hundred…
"But we will leave nothing to chance in the Foreign Office. Brazil is seven times the size of South Africa, the last country to host the World Cup. So we will have Foreign Office teams on the ground in every city where England has a game; we are reinforcing our Embassy staff with consular colleagues from around the region and have further staff on standby, including from our Embassy in Portugal; we have an excellent website providing World Cup Travel advice; we will be using social media to provide instantaneous advice and respond to queries; and we will work with the FA and the Football Supporters Federation to provide information on travelling in Brazil."
We are expecting to have to deal with hordes of drunken, semi-depressed football fans. Some will get dehydrated and fall ill. Others will find themselves the victims of crime. Some will just lost their passports. But we're ready to tell them not to on Twitter.
"We want to help visitors prepare, so that they can enjoy their visit to this marvellous country and hopefully see England perform brilliantly as well."
An England World Cup win would be great for national morale. Here's hoping…
To finish, some fun facts about the prospects for England fans in 2014:
- You'll probably be able to get a ticket. Unlike in previous major tournaments, the high costs of travelling to Brazil are putting many England fans off making the trip. Hundreds of tickets which had been allocated to England fans were unsold.
- On the flight out, you can expect to watch a short film warning about the dangers of having paid-for sex with children under 17
- In Manaus, the local mayor is displeased with England – because Hodgson complained about the heat and the humidity there. The Foreign Office is hoping to counteract this – by flagging up its credentials as the biodiversity capital of the world.