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Portugese fans fly football flag

PUBLISHED: 17:24 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:04 30 June 2010

WHILE Great Yarmouth had a knees-up for the start of England's World Cup campaign on Saturday, another section of the town's multi-cultural community was busy preparing for their country's first game.

WHILE Great Yarmouth had a knees-up for the start of England's World Cup campaign on Saturday, another section of the town's multi-cultural community was busy preparing for their country's first game.

As England's former Norwich City goalkeeper Robert Green fumbled a shot into his net to gift the USA a draw, the resort's 5,000-strong Portuguese population was quietly praying on Tuesday that Portugal keeper Ricardo did not repeat the mistake in their first game against Ivory Coast.

Fortunately, he avoided the error, though Portugal were unable to find the net against the African side, and the game ended 0-0.

But World Cup fever is definitely coursing through the Portuguese community, according to Carlos Antunes, a community worker with Community Connections.

Mr Antunes, 30, who supports Portuguese club Benfica, said his countrymen were not afraid of showing their support for their team, despite reports earlier this week they were afraid of upsetting England fans.

In 2004, trouble erupted in Thetford between England and Portugal fans after the Iberian nation dumped England out of the European Championships at the quarter-final stage.

But Mr Antunes said: “Personally, I used to live in Thetford where there was a bit of friction between the England and Portugal fans, but I am not aware of any concerns from speaking to the Portuguese community in Yarmouth.”

Mr Antunes, who comes from Sintra on the outskirts of Portuguese capital Lisbon, said fans were particularly looking forward to the crunch match against Brazil, who are fellow Portuguese speakers, but said the rivalry would be strictly friendly.

A 60-strong crowd gathered at Acle High School on Saturday to watch England's first game on a big screen measuring 5m by 4m.

Organiser Rob Bloomfield, chairman of the school's PTA, said: “I was quite pleased with the turnout. I would have liked to have seen more, but with it being a Saturday I think a lot of people stayed at home.”

He was hoping for a bigger crowd tonight when the screen will again be in use for England's match against Algeria.

Police have denied rumours they are banning football fans from showing support for their World Cup team by putting flags on their cars. A spokeswoman for Norfolk police said: “There is absolutely no truth in these rumours and we have no idea where they have come from.

“To be clear we have no problem with England supporters, or indeed the supporters of any other country, demonstrating their support of their team. All we ask is that drivers be careful to place any flags securely in a way that does not distract them or any other road user and that anyone celebrating (or commiserating) should do so sensibly and within the law.”

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