Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1133, 31 Jan - 6 Feb 2013
Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Issue 1133, 31 Jan - 6 Feb 2013

Ahram Weekly

Not many takers

In the middle of deadly violence, Egyptians are not paying much attention to the current Africa Cup of Nations which, moreover, they are not part of, reports Ahmed Hamdi

Al-Ahram Weekly

The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) kicked off a week ago, being held this year in South Africa. For the second time in a row, our national team, which holds the record for most championships – seven, at the most titles in a row, at three, must watch the tournament from home. Even that might be a stretch; Egyptian star, Mohamed Abou Treka, said in an interview to the Ahli club official website that he didn’t even know that the tournament had started. Treka said that his lack of interest in following up the tournament comes because of the absence of the Egyptian team.
Abu Treika is not alone. There is a big difference between when your country is playing in a tournament and when it is absent. Moreover, the political instability and deadly violence which has been rocking Egypt as it marked the second anniversary of the revolution have distracted attention away from the tournament.
“Has it started?” Yasser Ahmed, 24, asked when he was asked whether he was watching the ACN. Ahmed expressed his lack of interest to follow the tournament. “Egypt is not playing and the African teams are not like the Europeans so why should I watch?” he said.
Agreeing, Mohamed Hisham, 21, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the tournament had lost its shine for him since Egypt is not participating. “When Egypt used to play in the previous tournaments I used to watch only their matches and not the rest of the games unless it would affect our team somehow,” he said. “Now, since Egypt is not playing there is no need to watch the tournament at all,” he added.
“I watch only the matches of the Arab countries,” Ahmed Amer, 16, told the Weekly. Amer has been supporting Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, the three Arab representatives in the tournament. “I’m an Egyptian but I’m also an Arab so if Egypt is not there then my duty is to support the Arab teams,” he said. Like him, Mohamed Saber, 52, has been watching the African matches. Saber though watches them for a different reason. “I watch the tournament to somehow try to enjoy football and forget the political mess we are living in,” he said.
“It’s not about Egypt playing or not,” said Essam Fahmi, 46. “It’s just I’ll feel cold-blooded seeing people die on the streets around me while I watch football matches,” he added. The current problems have left many people in a state of desperation according to Mohamed Azmi, 47. “It’s just not possible for one to enjoy his time and watch football when his country is on fire,” the middle-aged man said.
That opinion was shared by a group of men who sat together on a café discussing political issues. “Watching the Africa Cup of Nations during this heated time is like walking in the streets wearing a swimsuit in freezing winter,” said Mohamed Gomaa, 33.
This reporter got other reactions from some people to his question about watching the African tournament. One left him high and dry after getting “the look”. Another asked him if he was crazy. It was obvious the reactions were hinting on “the inappropriate time due to the current political situation” as one man said it plain and simple.
“Well, if we will stop doing everything we love until the country becomes politically stable then we will never do so again,” said Sherif Nageh, 24. In Nageh’s opinion, watching the African tournament or any other football matches has nothing to do with following up with the current political problems. “I can go out in a demonstration and come back home to watch a football match,” Nageh said. “I mean politics of my country is a priority but football is also a joy and I see no contradiction between both.”
Anyway, if you are interested, partially interested, or not at all, the ACN is nearly half-way through and is being aired on Al-Jazeera sports channels +9 and +10. The quarter-finals will be held on 2 and 3 February as the winners will meet in the semi-finals on 6 February. The final will take place in Soccer City stadium on 10 February.

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