The organizers of the African Cup of Nations football tournament being held in Ivory Coast announced – yesterday, Monday – that they are taking several measures to ensure that the stadiums are more full, after the opening match between the host country and Guinea-Bissau, in which attendance was disappointing.
The match was held – last Saturday – in front of about 37,000 spectators, at the “Alassane Ouattara” stadium in the city of Anyama, north of the capital, Abidjan, which can accommodate about 60,000 spectators.
Controversy arose on social media in the Francophone country located in West Africa, due to the announcement of the complete sale of tickets, as a number of Ivorians pointed to the responsibility of people who bought dozens of tickets online to speculate on them, before they were unable to resell them in time.
“At the end of the first day of competition, many fans expressed concern about the stadium not being completely filled,” the Confederation of African Football and the Africa Cup of Nations Organizing Committee said in a press release.
They initially explained that out of the 60,000 seats available in the stadium, there were only 50,786 seats “usable” for the match, after removing the so-called “dead” seats, that is, security seats, alternative seats and places with low-visibility seats.
For last Saturday's match, 47,000 tickets were sold or made available to companies and institutions, the organizers added, who “would like to reassure residents about the measures taken to ensure easy access to the tournament ticket offices.”
Among these measures is ensuring, in particular, the possibility of reselling tickets allocated to fans of foreign countries, or to companies that did not find buyers for their tickets.
“Recognizing the strong demand for the online ticketing platform and the difficulties it may cause, the African Union and the Organizing Committee are actively encouraging people to go to physical points of sale to obtain their tickets,” the statement continued.
They pointed out that there are about 50 points of sale throughout the country.
The statement added, “We will accept the challenge of not playing any match in an empty stadium,” which is what François Amecia, head of the tournament's organizing committee, promised before the competition.
The matches were held last Sunday and Monday in front of stadiums that were not full. The match between Egypt, the 7-time African champion, took place in almost empty stands at the Felix Ouvet-Boigny stadium, which has a capacity of about 33,000 spectators.
On the same stadium, fans of Ghana and Cape Verde made up the majority of the attendance, numbering about 12 thousand people, in the clear absence of local fans.
Attendance at the African Cup of Nations is usually low in most of the first round matches, before the competition intensifies in the knockout rounds later.