Belo Horizonte stadium in Brazil ready to host England at World Cup
Belo Horizonte is prepared and thrilled to welcome England at the World Cup, reports Bryan Swanson.
By Bryan Swanson
Last Updated: 12/12/13 11:11am
The helicopter pilot who welcomed us to the city's Police Academy has already made a prediction...
"We will see Brazil play England - and Brazil will win!" he laughs, before dashing off to another training course inbetween circling the city's skies to maintain law and order.
More than 12,000 military police will patrol Belo Horizonte during the World Cup and many officers are undergoing additional training courses to ensure the safety and security of fans.
"Our training has become very intense," Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Luiz tells Sky Sports News. "We want supporters to be safe and we will welcome England to this city. We may see protests but we plan to react to anything and make sure that fans that travel here will have a good time."
Belo Horizonte was one of several cities in Brazil to experience violent trouble on the streets including anti-government protesters during the Confederations Cup in June.
City Hall officials say they expect similar protests during the World Cup.
"I think protests will happen again," says Camillo Fraga, Municipal Secretary for Belo Horizonte. "The main reason is that next year there are elections here in Brazil. But I think now we have learnt how to manage and how to try to have a peaceful protest. Should England fans be worried? No - I don't think so."
Football Association officials made a routine visit to Belo Horizonte after the World Cup draw as part of an inspection trip to every England venue.
The FA's operations team has returned home and will submit a report to Roy Hodgson and his coaches.
The Governor of Belo Horizonte wants to reassure any England supporter who has concerns over their safety and security.
"Now we have peace in Belo Horizonte," Antonio Anastasia tells Sky Sports News. "It's very well known as one of the safest cities in Brazil. English fans will be welcome and very safe in our capital."
The newly redeveloped 62,500-capacity Mineirao Stadium staged three games during the Confederations Cup, including Brazil's semi-final win against England's World Cup opponents Uruguay.
There's no shortage of space for Hodgson, his coaches and substitutes, with nearly 30 seats in each dugout and the pitch has been lowered as part of a modernisation project.
The stadium has the facility to capture and store up to 6,270,000 litres of rainwater, which can then be reused.
Belo Horizonte has a population of more than two million people and the city's two airports offer flights to each of the other eleven World Cup host cities.
'Not by the beach - by the bar!' is how tourism officials describe their city and fans can expect a lively atmosphere in town about an hour's flight from Sao Paulo, another England venue.
"We love beer," says Tiago Lacerda, Secretary of State for the Minas Gerais region. "We have many bars and people can sit outside in the street. We have very good music and England fans can enjoy a very good time here."
In the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, England were stunned to lose to the United States in Belo Horizonte.
England will hope to leave the same city, 64 years later, with a place in the knockout stages.