When the President of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmad Ahmad and the President of Egypt’s Local Organization Committee, Hany Abo Rida put pen-on-paper in February 2019 finalizing the award of hosting rights of the 2019 Africa Nations Cup to Egypt, many were sceptic the North African country will deliver. Their fears emanated from the short notice, the expansion of teams from 16 to 24 and the work to be done. Today the results are palpable in all domains.
In the domain of infrastructure Egypt launched extensive operations to revamp six stadiums in four cities, including the 75,000-seat Cairo International Stadium. Within five months, all these stadiums witnessed enormous restructuring with regards to the seating positions, going and coming into the stadium. The various turfs also received particular attention from horticulturists expects.
In terms of transportation Egyptian authorities ensured fans had smooth movement to and from the stadiums by refurbishing over six hundred buses in addition to the existing two hundred, while the Confederation of African Football signed a collaboration agreement with famous bus-booking transportation company to offer constant rides to and from venues. Internal railway transport was also revamp with the introduction of new metro lines and stations. Traveling by air was made possible to and from some host cities.
Ticketing seems to be one of the areas where the local organization committee had a lot of difficulties. After making an official launching of sales, fans had a choice to pay for their preferred ticket category online with immediate printing options, or pick them up at a number of outlets nationwide, depending on the purchased category. Despite these measures, many fans found it difficult to get tickets because of the complicated online procedure and the ticket prices. To watch a match at the main cabin one needed to disburse at least FCFA 87,500, and about FCFA 5,250 for the popular stand.
Despite expanding the number of teams from 16 to 24, Egyptian authorities were able to respect the new format even though the scheduling had two very damaging consequences. First on the image of the competition because the stadiums were empty and on the health of the players due to the temperature between 35-38 degrees Celsius with an average humidity of 40-60 percent during matches.
In terms of security, Egyptian authorities were faced with two challenges. First securing the different delegations and fans during and after matches. To tackle this issue, heavy security arsenals and personnel were deployed in all the hosting cities especially in hotels where players, foreign delegations and fans were lodged. In some towns, media men were not only escorted to and from the stadium by security officers, but were accompanied to shops.