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CAN 2024: empty stadiums, resale, ticket prices...Ivory Coast facing its first controversy

“A great celebration of youth, Ivorian hospitality and African brotherhood.

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CAN 2024: empty stadiums, resale, ticket prices...Ivory Coast facing its first controversy

“A great celebration of youth, Ivorian hospitality and African brotherhood.” These were the words addressed by President Alassane Ouattara to the Ivorian people to describe the African Cup of Nations, which began on Saturday January 13. Problem is, this big party is taking place for the moment… without the guests. Since the start of the competition, numerous images show the absence of supporters in the stands.

From the first match of the competition, which pitted Ivory Coast (organizing country) against Guinea Bisseau (victory for the locals 2 to 0), only 37,000 people filled the stands of the new Alassane Ouattara stadium in Ebimpé, near Abidjan, yet capable of accommodating up to 60,000. The host country defended itself, explaining that only 50,786 places were available, taking into account security or reduced visibility places.

But it was in other meetings that the extent of the problem was revealed. On Sunday, Egypt, which is one of the attractions of the competition, led by Reds striker Mohammed Salah, faced Mozambique (final score 2-2) in front of 8,000 people, in a stadium that can accommodate... 45,000!

The situation became even more obvious when Senegal, one of the favorites, entered the competition against Gambia, in an almost empty Charles-Konan-Banny Stadium and whose images seemed almost apocalyptic. This is not the only problem this match encountered, since the broadcast was cut following the passage of a storm. In short, the stadiums are empty. But why ? And is it possible to fix it?

This is not the first time that the African Cup of Nations matches do not attract the public. Already in 2022, Cameroon had been faced with the problem, displaying occupancy rates of 20 to 25%, not helped, it is true, by the health context at the time. Same story during the 2019 edition in Egypt, where only the Pharaohs' matches attracted crowds.

A phenomenon which can be explained, at least in part, by the disinterest of local supporters for a team other than their favorite selection. And which could therefore be expected to recur in the coming days. And this, despite the desire displayed, before the competition, by the host country to succeed in filling the stadiums.

Behind these empty stadiums lies another problem: ticket resale. For the opening ceremony for example. While the meeting was announced as a sellout, the stadium was ultimately not full. Many individuals, but also businesses, bought tickets en masse in order to resell them at a high price on the black market. Too expensive for the local population…

Supporters are also experiencing difficulties purchasing tickets online, caused by problems with connection and online payments. A video posted on social networks also created a buzz. You can see tickets distributed for free in the street...

However, solutions are being considered. This Tuesday, officials responsible for organizing the competition spoke on this subject. Robert Beugré Mambé, Prime Minister of Ivory Coast but also Minister of Sports and Living Environment, spoke: “Ticketing is the business of CAF. But we noticed that during the first matches there were a lot of problems. We take care of the problem and you will see the results within 48 hours.

Fans of the African competition are now impatiently awaiting the fallout from these decisions, which have not been revealed.

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