UK & World News

  • 9 June 2014, 8:28

Stunning Views And Secrecy At England's Rio HQ

England will train for the first time at their Rio headquarters on Monday - a military base that sits in the wealthy, secluded district of Urca in a cove overlooking Guanabara Bay.

Judged on the scenery alone, you might think the Brazilian Tourist Board had put together Roy Hodgson's itinerary rather than the Football Association.

The pitch at the base sits directly at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain and the sea laps at a private beach a few yards away.

There is method to the choice beyond the magnificent view.

The military setting offers Hodgson first-class facilities as well as seclusion, give or take the odd prying eye from the Sugar Loaf cable car, as he plots England's campaign.

The pitch has been improved since I was last there in December under the guidance of the Wembley groundsman and all the other facilities are on site.

Urca has previously been used by Brazil's Olympic volleyball team and it is easy to see why.

There is a large, two-storey gymnasium equipped with free weights and machines, cardio equipment and even the old military favourite, the medicine ball.

There is one drawback to the location, however.

It is nine miles from England's hotel in Sao Conrado at the other end of the city waterfront and a challenging journey in Rio's grinding traffic.

On our last visit it took a full hour to make the trip in mid-morning, though the FA has been assured that police outriders and road closures will make the journey manageable, even if it wins few friends among Rio's commuters.

England will lay on the charm on the first day, throwing open the doors to press and public for 90 minutes, a Fifa requirement for all competing nations.

For Steven Gerrard and his players, it may be a rare sight of ordinary fans, if the security that greeted them on arrival in Brazil on Sunday is any guide.

England's coach was ringed by police with riot shields as it pulled on to the forecourt of the Royal Tulip Hotel.

There was no obvious threat beyond the watching media and a few bemused locals but the authorities are clearly taking no chances.

We can expect a significant security presence later in the day too, when a group of England players will visit the Rocinha favela that sits on the hill above their hotel.

The players will get no greater example of the yawning gap between rich and poor that still exists in Brazil, despite all its economic expansion, than the view from their balconies.

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