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Mascot revealed, tickets on sale
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 05 - 2019

On Sunday 19 May, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), which Egypt is hosting, unveiled the mascot of the 32nd edition of Africa's most prestigious football event in a special ceremony which also saw the president announce the launch of online tickets to the championship.
According to the Egyptian presidency, President Al-Sisi has been keen on following up on Egyptian efforts related to organising the tournament. Egypt was named as the host nation of this summer's edition which is scheduled to take place from 21 June to 19 July.
The president was presented a mini version of the mascot by the EFA and LOC President Hani Abu Rida in the ceremony.
The mascot, Tut, which adorns a 12-year-old ancient Egyptian boy pharaoh, was created by designer Tamer Mortada. It has the face of a young boy and the head of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. While the design is Egyptian, the manufacturing of the mascot was produced by an experienced English company, the same that produced the mascot of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Tut, the mascot
“After a long journey... he is finally here... Say Hi to our special host for the AFCON 2019,” the Egyptian Football Association announced when unveiling the mascot.
Though celebrating the mascot, Egyptians took to mainstream and social media to remind themselves of the mascot of the 2009 Under-20 FIFA World Cup which was held in Egypt and how similar they looked. The only difference could be that the 2009 mascot resembles a man, not a boy.
Tournament director Mohamed Fadl spoke of the “long and hard working hours” that took the organisers, in just a few months, to introduce a mascot “that would meet the expectations of the whole football family, including the fans.
“Our time was so tight but we had to face all the challenges ahead, as hosts, with so much to be done in all the fields including, stadiums, tickets and the mascot, which was no exception. When we started working, we had so many files and projects on the table that needed to be done immediately and with perfection within a short time to accomplish all that,” Fadl said.
Fadl, a former Egypt and Ahly international, who took part in both the 2008 and 2010 editions of the AFCON, said they had no alternative but to work on all those files simultaneously. “We had to go parallel while working with all those files including the renovation of the playing stadiums, training fields, selecting team hotels, selecting the volunteers, marketing and sponsorship issues, tickets, security and preparing for the draw ceremony. It was a true challenge to focus on the details on everything related to the biggest continental football competition.
“The mascot was one of these challenges and the most important as well because it is the face and image of the tournament and the nation as well. The design was created by an Egyptian company, Aroma, who have cooperated with us and refused to be charged for their creation, as part of their contribution to the country in hosting the one-month-long event. They have been so professional and were able to produce the mascot in record time and we truly appreciate their effort.
“Our next step, in the production of the mascot, was travelling to England to bring it to light and in that matter we selected an experienced English company which had also produced the 2018 World Cup mascot and will produce the next Euro Cup mascot. That was our priority, producing a fantastic, unique mascot.
“Tut is our champion mascot. He is a young boy who loves football. His personality represents the Egyptian identity. He looks after us and speaks on behalf of a new generation, to bring us hope in our future. We wanted him to be young in age as a symbol to the coming generation and their future. One of our main goals at the LOC is drawing a bright and hopeful future for our youngsters, introduce new calibers, entrust Egyptian companies with important tasks and missions, and develop our stadiums' infrastructure to serve us for longer years to come.
the president listens to the process of online ticketing (below)
“Meanwhile, we are working on producing the event's official three-language song. Also, parallel to that, work continues on all levels, especially in the stadiums. We still have lot to do and limited time, but we are confident we will make it successfully,” Fadl said.
On the same day as Tut was introduced, tickets for the 24-nation competition went on sale online. Football fans in Egypt and across the world can visit the official website to get their fan ID and tickets for AFCON 2019.
Immediately after the launch of ticket sales was announced, the website struggled with the pressure, especially from Egyptians, to avoid crashing.
A few days ago, the LOC of AFCON 2019 said it would reconsider the prices of tickets which created an uproar as they were deemed too expensive. It reduced the lowest category in Egypt's matches from LE200 to LE150 in the competition's first round after extensive controversy broke out on the issue in Egypt in late April.
“The organising committee decided to reduce the price of the lowest category ticket in Egypt's matches from LE200 to LE150 just in the first round to lift the burden on Egyptian football fans and also to increase the attending numbers in the stands to support the national team and enjoy the tournament on home territory,” a statement by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) issued on Wednesday 15 May, said.
On 29 April, ticket prices of the matches featuring the Egyptian team were announced at four categories: LE200, LE400, LE600 and LE2,500 (about $145). Tickets of other matches were set at three tiers: LE100 (about $6), LE300, and LE500.
Many football fans, sports figures and actors voiced criticism over the ticket prices, especially for the lowest category in Egypt's matches, which were considered too high for the average Egyptian. Egypt's Minister of Sports Ashraf Sobhi intervened, promising a reassessment of the prices.
“The deduction decision came after we took into consideration a number of factors, including ticket prices of previous tournaments, the population in Egypt, the average income of Egyptians, costs of the stadiums, and finally the current marketing value of this tournament,” explained the EFA statement.
“The organising committee hoped to make a bigger reduction in the price of the lowest category ticket, or even making it for free, but the factors of setting the prices of tickets in big tournaments prevented this,” the statement concluded.
Egyptians were not thrilled by the news of the reduction of prices and again took to social media with memes wondering whether the LE50 reduction needed three weeks to consider.
Egypt is hosting the tournament on short notice. In December last year, Cameroon was stripped of the right to host the 2019 AFCON on the grounds it was not ready. Following the decision, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) opened a new bidding process. Egypt and South Africa were the only two countries to submit their candidacy to become 2019 host. Egypt had already hosted four editions of the cup, in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006.
Egypt was granted hosting rights of the 2019 AFCON after winning a majority of votes in the January meeting of the executive committee of the CAF which was held in Dakar, Senegal. Egypt received 16 out of 18 votes, with only one vote going to sole rival South Africa, while the remaining voting country abstained.
Next month's tournament will see the first-ever 24-team AFCON from the usual 16. It will also be the first AFCON to be played in summer. Egypt will kick off the tournament on 21 June, when they take on Zimbabwe at the 74,100-seat Cairo International Stadium, with the final scheduled for 19 July.
Egypt is seeking to win the prestigious title for the first time since 2010, the last of their record seven victories.

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