England's match against Portugal on Wednesday is perfect preparation for fans ahead of Euro 2004.
Just over four months to go until the big Euro 2004 kick-off and what better preparation for the hosts and the fans than a pre-tournament friendly in Portugal.
For some, the preparation started many months ago. Fans, government, The FA and the security authorities have all been working towards the same goal - a successful Euro 2004 tournament for the fans - and it all starts this week with the friendly in Faro. England fan groups have been working closely with the British Council to organise a fans' forum. Supporters from both countries will meet up tonight for what will primarily be a night of entertainment with DJs, Music and Competitions.
There is, however, a more serious purpose, and it all forms part of a message The FA will be pushing throughout the build-up to this tournament. On and off the pitch, Euro 2004 has the potential to be a wonderful tournament for the fans. The forum will provide England supporters with an opportunity to meet their hosts, to find out about the country they'll be visiting in the summer and to promote England fans.
The England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson, has recorded a special message for the England supporters who attend the forum in Faro this evening, in which he has urged fans to treat the Finals in the summer as a festival of football.
The initiative from The FA is an attempt to change the perception of England supporters before Euro 2004 kicks off in June.
The venue for the forum has yet to be decided but is being organised jointly by the British Council and independent supporters groups. "Supporters groups have already been out to Portugal," said The FA's Jonathan Arana. "This fans' forum is only one of a number of things we have planned. On the day of the match, a group of English supporters will be visiting local orphanages and schools in Faro.
"It is all part of an overall initiative to prove to the Portuguese police and the people of the country that English fans are very different to the hooligan stereotypes usually portrayed. We want to push the message that England supporters are not all hooligans, that the majority are decent people who love their football."
Invitations to the forum have been sent out to England members and the panel will include FA officials plus representatives from the Portuguese police, the Football Supporters' Federation and the Algarve Tourist Board.
Watch this space for more information on 'All Together Now', The FA's campaign for England fans in the build-up to Euro 2004.