• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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$16.4m prize money up for grab as AFCON 2019 begins

AFCON 2019-trophy

The biggest football showpiece in the continent, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2019 kicks off in Egypt today, which will see a record 24 participating teams, jostle for the trophy.

The biggest boost for this tournament is the increase in prize money for the participating teams.

The prize money for AFCON 2019 totals $16.4 million, a 64 percent increase from previous AFCON; the winner gets $4.million, while runners up take home $2.million, semi-finalists get $1.5 million, eight teams from the quarter-finalists also get $800,000 each, third in group picks $575,000 each and last team in each group take $475,000.

The prize money increase is boosted by sponsorship deal CAF signed with French oil company Total.

The biggest talking point is the numbers of tourist and football fans that will troop in to catch the live actions of their darling teams.

“The Africa Cup of Nations Championship (AFCON) is likely to attract more than 50,000 tourists to Egypt in June 2019,” Sports and Youth Minister Ashraf Sobhy affirmed during the higher meeting of the organization of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019.

Believed to be followed by almost 2.1 billion people all over the world, Sobhy referred to the championship’s foremost eminence economically and sportively. Still, Sobhy asserted the big event’s key role in reviving Egyptian tourism.

The Egyptian government battling to curb ticket racketing through the use of electronic ticketing systems will help keep fans safe and prevent crowd trouble as security tightens.

Tickets have only been available for sale online and the buyer has to enter their national ID or passport number, a system that allows authorities to vet and track fans, as well as limiting black-market sales.

“The fan ID and the online ticketing are security measures,” Fadl said.

“It is to avoid the black market, to build a new system for Egyptians, to push the fans to return to the stadium.”

The Nations Cup, expanded to 24 teams for the first time, will be played in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia.

Dozens of police officers and armoured vehicles were deployed around Cairo stadium this week, with strict security checks for people trying to enter.

Egypt slid into political turmoil after a 2011 uprising, and security forces have been battling an Islamist insurgency focused in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

In recent months there have been several security incidents including two roadside blasts targeting tourists in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, but the country has not suffered large-scale attacks since late 2017.

Security in general is tight, following a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“It is different I think,” Fadl said, comparing the current situation to the years that followed the uprising.

“Security and surveillance cameras of the highest quality are all around the stadium.”

Fadl said he was hoping for 90% attendance during the tournament. Egypt’s three group games sold out after authorities reduced the price of the cheapest tickets to 150 Egyptian pounds ($9) from 200 pounds.

In a country where many ordinary people have been struggling with rising living costs, some say ticket prices are still too high.

One such fan, Ahmad Bayoumi, complained that the process for registering online was also tricky.

“It is really expensive and I really like watching (the matches) here at the cafe,” he said. “The cafe has its own atmosphere.”

Matches will be played in six centers; Cairo, Port Said, Suez, Alexandria, Ismailia and El Salam.

 

Anthony Nlebem