Cup of Nations defends cost, crowd sizes

AFCON trophy (AFP)
AFCON trophy (AFP)

Libreville - Africa Cup of Nations organisers said on Monday that the tournament in Gabon had cost less than expected and defended crowd sizes at the competition.

Speaking at a press conference in Libreville the morning after the final, Christian Kerangall of the tournament's organising committee said the three-week event had come in under budget.

"The figure being reported in the press is 463 billion CFA francs (around $750 million)," he said.

That figure had been put forward by media close to Jean Ping, the main rival of President Ali Bongo.

"We are a long way from that. The amended budget in July 2015 was 303 billion CFA francs. Now we know that the cost was 192 billion," he added.

The organisers also defended crowds at the tournament, hitting back at suggestions attendances were worse than usual.

"There were 535,000 tickets available in total for the competition. The overall attendance was around 330-350,000," Kerangall said.

"We estimate that around 66 percent of seats were filled prior to the final, where the stadium was completely full," he added, affirming that usually stadiums are no more than 40 percent full on average at the Cup of Nations.

Stadiums often filled as matches went on with supporters frequently late arriving, although a nadir was reached for the group game between Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Then, only 1,800 people attended the match at the 40,000-seat Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville.

Cameroon beat Egypt 2-1 in Sunday's final to win the trophy for the fifth time.

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