– Opportune moment –
Egypt already has at least eight venues ready for use, notably the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium and the Borg El Arab in Alexandria, which seats 86,000.
The North African country, which has experience in mass tourism, has a multitude of hotels, two international airports, in Cairo and near Alexandria, and a road network linking the main cities.
Egypt is “technically capable of pulling this off”, said James Dorsey, a Middle East analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“It’s an opportunity for the government to deliver something that people care about” at a time of economic crisis, said Dorsey.
The success in the English Premier League of Egypt’s own football star, Mohamed Salah, is something the Egyptian authorities, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, have been eager to use to their advantage.
But at the international level, the Sisi regime is regularly accused by human rights organisations of serious violations, including politically motivated arrests and torture in prisons.
“I don’t think (staging AFCON) will distract from the criticism of the Egyptian government,” said Dorsey.