Football fans in Egypt upset over broadcaster’s hefty fees

Egyptians are unusually excited about 2018 World Cup as their national football team known as The Pharaohs are playing for the first time in 28 years. But they are disappointed and angry too as most of them cannot afford private subscriptions to beIN sports TV network at home, AFP reports.

BeIN Media Group operates from Qatar with which Arab countries including Egypt had broken ties since last June.

Egyptian authorities recently failed to secure broadcast rights for The Pharaohs’ matches on state television.

For customers, BeIN deoder costs $91 and annual subscription comes to $127. Besides these, they have to pay $115 as special subscription to watch the matches. Even existing subscribers are angry over this special fee charged by the sports broadcaster.

Football enthusiasts have reason to be angry over the pricey subscriptions in a country where the average income is below $250.

While BeIN did not respond to AFP’s questions on the subscription costs in Egypt, owner of a beIN store in Cairo said the subscription price has hardly changed from that for the 2014 World Cup. This time, the decline in value of Egyptian pound has contributed to higher prices, he said.

The youth and sports ministry’s Mohamed el-Kourdy claims it has reached an agreement with the company representing beIN in Egypt to offer it discounts. This, if true, is some relief for Egypt.

The broadcaster has not yet reached agreement with Saudi Arabia, another qualifier for the World Cup in Russia. However, the UAE has struck a deal to restore beIN broadcasts in emirates.

Egypt’s youth and sports ministry will arrange big screens at more than 5,000 affiliated youth centres and clubs to broadcast the matches live.

Meanwhile, coffee shop owners do not mind spending a little more on subscriptions so long as they can pull in the crowds and do brisk business.

Ahmed Ibrahim, the owner of a cafe in downtown Cairo, says a beIN subscription is “a must”.

Young football fans sporting long hair to look like Liverpool’s Egyptian star player Mohamed Salah (pictured) have already started streaming into cafes to discuss Egypt’s chances of winning some matches.

Egypt’s opening game is on June 15 against Uruguay.