Forget about anything you may know in Europe, football in Egypt is an experience in itself!!!
In February 2006, I had a chance to attend the final match of the African Cup of Nations in Cairo, the match kicked off at 1800 on a Saturday.
Shaheera first tells me that we must be at the stadium at 14h00. Really?? Punctuality is not really an middle east value, we still left home at 13h50 and made stops on the highway to drop tickets for the match to friends… we slalomed in town, and a few fears later, and some good u-turns and brake stops, we car parked on the 5th row of cars in front of the stadium along the main avenue (well it was the middle of the avenue by then) I thought we were waiting for someone… no!! we left the car here, no worries about the police, what can they do??? too many cars anyway
There we go, off to the stadium!! Ticket in hand, I tried to find which gate we had to go to, which line, which section, everyone laughing at me, too organised my dear, first come first served here, no rows, no lines, no sections, what for?
So, tickets were printed with categories, lines and sections for nothing… so, that is why we were there at 14h00!! We went into the stadium, it was absolutely packed, the staircases were blocked with people, large families were having picnic, kuka kula, crips, bebsi kula. After negotiating with one of those, we squeezed in between on the staircases with our own family, there were 17 of us only!! and there we go, we also had our picnic!!!
18h00 – kick off, 2 hours of screaming, singing, praying, Shaheera spent the whole time praying “yarab, yarab”, in the end, Egypt is African Champion!!!!
Fireworks went on, Baba Hosni is here too, happy, gates of the stadium close with the public inside to let him go by helicopter, then finally, we can leave, it is 22h30
There are ONLY 3 rows in front of our car left, then we will be able to move, no prob, just sing and dance and you will be fine!!!
A 2h00, the car moves!! we were back home at 04h00, nothing to say, a 90mn match ends up in a 15 hour moment in my life
Nothing to see with Saitama or the Stade de France, clearly
This remains as one of my nicest moments in Egypt! The family spirit, the lack of agressivity (of course, no alcohol around explains a lot) the children, the women, the families everywhere, this was to me really what a sport fair should be