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Fans hoping for World Cup glory in 2010 need a wealth check

A footballSome 50,000 England football fans are expected to head to South Africa next summer to experience the side's latest attempt to win the World Cup. But with only around 5,000 official tickets available for England fans for matches, many will end up disappointed.

Getting your hands on tickets

FIFA put the latest batch of one million tickets on sale through the FIFA website last Friday after the draw, which saw England facing the USA, Algeria and Slovenia. However, there are only 5,040 tickets allocated to England fans for the opening game against on June 12, with 6,876 seats available for the side’s second match on June 18 and just 4,715 tickets for the final group game on June 23.

The good news –there is some! – is that you have until the end of January 2010 to apply for tickets, with the ballot being made on 1 February. Then there will be further sales phases beginning on 9 February – on a first come, first served basis – and on 15 April, although it is not clear if there will be further England tickets available at either or both times.

Taking the trip to South Africa

So, thousands of eager fans will end up missing out on match tickets, but will still make the trip and there are plenty of reasons to do so. The big match atmosphere will certainly spread to city centres for England’s games in Rustenberg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth ensuring a fun and fascinating trip for fans even if they can’t get inside the stadiums. And a visit to South Africa at any time is a memorable treat.

Don’t make the costly mistake of scrimping on travel insurance

But being caught up in the excitement and anticipation of travelling halfway across the world to experience England’s possible triumph can cause travel blindness, with the simple effects causing travellers to take unnecessary risks. One of the biggest risks many fans could take is to travel to South Africa without adequate travel insurance.

One in five people already travel without travel insurance and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is worried that the current depressed economic climate and the relatively high cost of flights to South Africa will lead more fans to take the risk of travelling without cover.

But such money-saving antics could be a costly mistake. The FCO points out that not having travel insurance could cost a fan who breaks their leg more than £25,000 in medical bills and air evacuation to get them home. Without travel insurance you’d be forced to find a way to stump up the cost yourself. With the high levels of crime in South Africa it is also important to insure any possessions you take with you, the FCO says.

Learn the culture and customs

Being unprepared for the different culture and customs could also be costly. Having a few beers before a game could mean being refused entry to a match, for instance. Worse, any racist or xenophobic behaviour or materials – such as t-shirts - could see you being slung in jail if seen by a South African policeman.

If you’re planning to hire a car and drive between matches you should first be aware of the distances – Cape Town is 900 miles away from Johannesburg, for instance. But also learn local rules of the road: at four way intersections or roundabouts the car that arrives first has the right of way, for example.

Take care of your health  

Also don’t take health risks. You’ll need vaccinations and medications before you fly so visit your GP to get the necessary plenty of time before your planned trip starts. You can get more information on the health precautions you should take at: The National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Normal travelling tips also apply. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 30 days AFTER the day you come back, for instance.

If you’re dreaming of Rooney or Lampard scoring the winner in the World Cup next summer, keep your feet on the ground when planning your dream trip. Get more help and advice at the FCO website.

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Simon Read

Sharon Flaherty

Simon Read was previously personal finance editor at The Independent and money editor at The People. He has been a financial journalist for around 20 years, during which time he has worked on the money desks for The Guardian and The Daily Mirror among others.

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