Full stadiums ‘critical’ for 2013 African Cup
Filling stadiums is a top priority for next year’s African Cup
of Nations, the tournament’s newly appointed head organizer said
South Africa’s local organizing committee chief executive Mvuzo
Mbebe said in his first meeting with reporters since taking the job
that having full stadiums was a ”critical success factor” for
next year’s continental championship.
Low attendances for games not involving the home team have long
been a problem for the African Cup, with this year’s tournament in
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea criticized for some poor crowds, even
in knockout matches.
Organizers admitted they were powerless to prevent the swathes
of empty seats, even after giving away free tickets.
Mbebe indicated South Africa would revive some policies from its
successful 2010 World Cup – including having football-dedicated
days on Fridays – to raise interest.
South Africa was also considering the unusual step of having
seven venues, and not the usual four, with four stadiums for group
games and three separate grounds for the quarterfinals onwards.
Candidate cities will present their bids to the organizing
committee on March 23 and the winning venues will be chosen by the
end of March ahead of a visit by Confederation of African Football
President Issa Hayatou in April. Organizers would focus primarily
on using stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup, Mbebe said.
But Mbebe also warned that the African Cup ”will not sell
itself” as the World Cup did and said the form of South Africa’s
national team, which has been poor recently, would be crucial to
ensuring well-attended matches.
Organizers would make tickets ”secure but accessible and
affordable,” Mbebe said in the presentation, with the organizing
committee needing to sell 500,000 tickets to ensure the 16-team,
32-game African Cup had full crowds.
Other plans for the African Cup included a trophy tour from
newly crowned champion Zambia down to South Africa.
South Africa failed to qualify for the last two African Cup of
Nations but was chosen to host the 2013 tournament in a swap deal
with troubled Libya. Libya will host the 2017 version, which was
initially awarded to South Africa.
The biennial African Cup will be held back-to-back in 2012 and
2013 after CAF decided to move it to odd years to avoid clashing
with the World Cup.
The 2013 tournament will be launched April 3, less than two
months after the last one ended, and is scheduled for mid-January
to mid-February next year. Exact dates have not been announced.
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