AFCON 2019 ticket prices to be reconsidered after controversy erupts in Egypt

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Tuesday 30 Apr 2019,
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Cairo International Stadium
File photo: Cairo International Stadium during AFCON 2006 Reuters

After widespread controversy broke out on social media over the price of tickets for this summer's 2019 African Cup of Nations, which were announced on Monday, Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy has said that the prices will be reconsidered.

The ticket prices announced on Monday were available at three tiers: EGP 100 (approx. $6), EGP 300, and EGP 500.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian team were at four tiers: EGP 200, EGP 400, EGP 600, and EGP 2,500 (approx. $145).

Many football fans, sports figures, and even actors voiced criticism over the ticket prices, especially for the lowest category in Egypt's matches, which were considered too high for the average Egyptian football fan.

"Minister [Sobhy] discussed the problem with the head of the tournament’s organising committee Hany Abo Rida and promised to offer the best atmosphere for fan attendance and remove any obstacles to this goal," said a statement by the Egyptian sports ministry on Wednesday.

"The minister and Abo Rida agreed to reconsider the prices to make them suitable for football fans. The welfare of the supporters is a priority and the crisis will be solved within the coming hours," the statement added.

Abo Rida has said that the lowest-priced ticket category will be reassessed.

"The organising committee is currently reconsidering the prices as one of the main targets of the tournament is getting the fans back to the stands," Abo Rida explained in a statement by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).

"This reassessment mainly targets the lowest category of prices for Egypt's matches, which would play a crucial role in supporting the national team," Abo Rida said.

"The prices for the other teams will also be reconsidered as we want Egyptian football fans to fill the stands in these matches to provide the best image for Egypt."

Widespread criticism

Directly after Tuesday's announcement of the prices, former Egypt and Zamalek striker Ahmed 'Mido' Hossam said he was shocked over the prices, saying that "EGP 200 is too much."

"Has football suddenly become a game for the rich in Egypt? Who would pay EGP 600 to watch Egypt's first three matches within a span of 10 days? This would be 35 percent of their monthly income," Mido said.

"Prices for the lowest category of tickets should be reconsidered.

"Raise the prices of the first class tickets all you want, since there are citizens who can even pay EGP 10,000 for the first class ticket, but the lowest category should not exceed EGP 100 EGP; which is 5 percent of the minimum wage in Egypt (EGP 2,000). Even EGP 100 is too much.

"I ask the sports minister to intervene to modify the prices to make them suitable for low-income citizens.

"Football is and will remain the game of the poor. I mean those who play, follow, and support it."

Mido

The head of the tournament’s ticket sub-committee Amr El-Bortoqali said in a press release on Monday that the prices were determined in coordination with the Confederation of African Football to attract fans from all over the continent, and said that they are in line with prices at previous tournaments.

Actor Mahmoud El-Bezawy also criticised the announced prices, saying: "I would need to pay EGP 800 [including expenses] if I wanted to attend a match by Egypt with my son at the lowest class, and you still want me to pray for the national team?", implying that paying this much would push him to pray against the team.

Egypt and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah responded to El-Bezawy's tweet, mockingly saying: "Don't even think about sitting in first class, because then you would truly be praying for the national team."

Salah

Smouha president and parliament member Mohamed Farag Amer also said that he will raise the issue of the ticket prices for discussion in parliament next week.

This summer will see the first-ever 24-team Nations Cup.

The Pharaohs, Egypt, will kick off the tournament by playing Zimbabwe on 21 June, with the final scheduled on 19 July.

*The exchange rate for the Egyptian pound is $1=EGP 17.22, according to the Central Bank of Egypt on 30 April.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 

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