In Ivory Coast, controversy surrounding the sale of tickets before the start of the CAN

Ivory Coast thought it was done with football controversies

In Ivory Coast, controversy surrounding the sale of tickets before the start of the CAN

Ivory Coast thought it was done with football controversies. But two and a half months before the start of the African Cup of Nations, due to be held in the country from January 13 to February 11, 2024, ticketing problems have reignited fans' concerns, with some complaining about not having managed to attend the Elephants' last friendly matches, against Morocco (1-1) and South Africa (1-1) at the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, due to lack of a ticket.

In order to sell the 22,000 places available for each match, fourteen ticket sales points, spread across the economic capital and its outskirts, were set up by the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF). But, according to several supporters, only the one located in the premises of the body still offered tickets, the day before each match. And in only one price category, those at 15 euros, while places at 3 and 7.5 euros should have been available.

“Fifteen euros in Ivory Coast is a high sum [the average salary is around 140 euros]. Many people cannot make this effort for a football match", regrets an Abidjan supporter who criticizes the FIF for having "in a certain way favored the black market by letting people buy a certain number of tickets, which will then sell them for two, three and even four times the initial price.

Internal investigation

On social networks, some Internet users went further, accusing members of the body of having themselves purchased significant quantities of tickets, particularly those at 3 and 7.5 euros, to then resell them on the parallel market and reap substantial profits. Reproaches brushed aside by the FIF during a press conference on October 15.

“Tickets for the general public went very quickly and, as the capacity of the stadium is not enormous, demand was greater than supply,” said Armand Gohourou, the executive director of the FIF, contacted by Le Monde. He assures: “The accusations that the federation favored the black market are unfounded. Idriss Diallo, the president of the FIF, had decided to offer each employee a ticket. Regarding physical sales, no person could acquire more than three tickets. Those who wanted more had to write to the federation mentioning the identities and contacts of the ticket recipients. »

The matter was, however, deemed serious enough for the FIF to decide to launch an internal investigation, led by Kaé Oulaï, the general director of the national technical center. The police were also contacted by the authority. “We need to get answers to find out if there are things that went wrong. It is possible that people who obtained tickets while respecting the rules then resold them for a higher price. We cannot control everything,” continues Armand Gohourou.

The conclusions of this internal investigation will be known “by November 3,” assures Kaé Oulaï, while Ivory Coast is due to host Seychelles on November 17, on the first day of qualifying for the World Cup. world 2026. For this match which could attract nearly 60,000 spectators, the FIF will set up, in addition to points of sale, an online ticket purchasing system, “which has never been the case before », Specifies Armand Gohourou.

The lawn of the Alassane Ouattara stadium

Should we fear similar problems during the African Cup of Nations? “The Organizing Committee [Cocan], which is in charge of ticketing, decided last May, in agreement with the Confederation of African Football [CAF] that a portion of the tickets, probably in a proportion of approximately 30%, will be sold online. With this more secure system, the risks of fraud are reduced, but not non-existent,” underlines Idriss Diallo, president of the FIF. Tickets will also be available at the ticket offices of the stadiums hosting the competition.

Cocan and CAF must announce in November, when the presale is launched, the maximum number of tickets that each person will be able to acquire. “There will inevitably be individuals who will find loopholes to engage in the black market, whether with digital or physical tickets,” sighs another Ivorian supporter.

The ticket affair came a month after the controversy over the state of the pitch at the Alassane Ouattara stadium, a 60,000-seat arena built in Ebimpé, in the suburbs of Abidjan and inaugurated with great fanfare in October 2020. The 12 September, the friendly match between the Elephants and Mali was interrupted at half-time, due to heavy rains making the pitch impassable. Work has been undertaken since.