Egypt will host the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in a few days, making this the fifth time Egypt will have the honour of acting as host of the tournament, having organised it in 1959, 1974, 1986, and 2006.
This will also make Egypt the country to have organised the tournament the most times. This year will witness the participation of 24 teams for the first time in the history of the AFCON, which began in 1957.
Several key points about this important event should be considered.
Egypt's hosting of the AFCON sends a message that the country is safe, strong and stable. One way of marketing the event is providing accommodation for fans and journalists from foreign media to cover the tournament. The accommodation provided should be in close proximity to the games and private buses should be made available to and from the stadiums. The media should also call on Egyptian football fans not to be unruly and to adhere to the rules.
It is also necessary to market the championship on foreign media channels and highlight the scenes of celebration in the streets to deliver the message that Egypt is safe. We should also invite all international football associations to observe the organising of the tournament and involve some companies in the event.
Success in promoting the African Cup of Nations depends on advertising campaigns targeting the African countries that have qualified for the tournament, especially countries with which we have direct flights. These campaigns should begin with full cooperation and coordination between the government and the private sector. This can be accomplished by intensifying promotional campaigns before the start of the tournament.
Egypt's hosting of such an event presents a golden opportunity to bring about a state of integration between Egypt and a number of the countries participating in the tournament. The AFCON can be used to conclude economic and tourism cooperation agreements.
The Ministry of Tourism should make a tourist map of all Egyptian landmarks and organise free visits for Africans visiting the country to learn about the Egyptian civilisation and history. There will be a great opportunity to expose the African masses to our tourist attractions, civilisation and culture.
Egypt has strong infrastructure, which has enabled it to win the hosting rights for the tournament and can accommodate 24 international teams, reflecting the size of the achievements Egypt has made and making it the centre of the world's attention for the duration of the AFCON.
The whole world cares about football and follows the sport, so this event presents a great marketing opportunity for Egypt because all kinds of media outlets will be covering the matches.
It is necessary to form youth groups to support the Football Federation and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in preparations for organising the tournament and to help come up with initiatives that contribute to promoting the championship and raising awareness of its importance.
There must also be coordination between the security, tourism and sports sectors because the event will achieve a good economic return. Each team participating in the tournament is serving is an ambassador for its country, and will take home their impressions, so an effort must be made to ensure that they have a positive story to tell when they do.
We must use this event to present an image of civilised behavior and welcome our guests with hospitality, as well as organise visits to tourist attractions for players and coaches.
Promotional materials should be prepared for broadcast before and during the tournament to leave a positive impression among participants, fans and audiences around the world to attract more tourists to Egypt. The stadiums where the games will be played should be used as platforms to present promotional materials, including for the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum and other tourist sites.
One of the most important things Egypt gains from hosting this tournament – following a period of absence since the hosting of the 2006 AFCON and the World Youth Cup in 2009 – is sending a message that the country has returned to its position of prominence after years of political instability.
* The writer has a PhD in Linguistics and currently teaches at the English Department, Faculty of Arts, Menoufiya University. He is also a former Visiting Professor at the College of William and Mary, USA.