Egypt's talisman Mohamed Salah Shutterstock
In a statement, the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) said it had decided to 'enforce its authority' and 'compel FIFA to give the right for direct ground transmission to the (Egyptian) National Media Authority' for 22 World Cup matches. At present, Egyptians cannot watch the World Cup for free, with matches only being broadcast in the country by Qatar-based pay television network beIN. Egypt is to appear in its first World Cup in 28 years. The authority said it received a complaint against FIFA, accusing the international football organising body of violating Egypt's competition law. The authority stated, 'FIFA has deprived competitors of beIN company from presenting better offers to the Egyptian viewer.' The ECA wrote to football's world governing body on May 17 calling on FIFA to obey its publicised policy, but it has not cooperated with the continuous correspondence by the authority so far. It remains unclear if FIFA will comply with the demand by the time the World Cup kicks off on Thursday.
In Egypt, subscribers have to buy a beIN decoder for 1,630 pounds and pay a fee of over 2,000 pounds to watch the World Cup. In a country of 97 million people where the average wage does not exceed 200 euros ($235), that means getting the subscription is beyond the means of many football fans. Existing subscribers can get a discount, but the outlay is still equivalent to about two weeks wages for the average Egyptian. Egyptian cafe owners are less worried, they will be welcoming fans who cannot afford to watch the games at home to watch the World Cup in cafes who have paid to show the games. However, many fans want the government to intervene to help Egyptians afford to watch the matches at home.