Tunisia weigh up Confed concerns

On Tuesday a suicide bomber killed 12 military personnel in an attack on the main avenue of the capital Tunis, which is about 90 minutes’ drive north of Sousse, where Orlando Pirates will be playing the second leg of the Final against Etoile du Sahel.

It has led to state of emergency being declared including a night time curfew, which means the deciding game on Sunday now kicks off at 16h00 South African time rather than at 20h30.

Since the start of the Arab Spring some five years ago now, which saw public discontent leading to massed public demonstrations and the swift toppling of the long-standing regime in Tunisia, crowds at football matches have been restricted.

Security officials fear gatherings like that on football terraces could led to demonstrations and more civil unrest. It is the same in Egypt.

For several seasons, crowds were banned from local league matches, forced behind closed doors, and Tunisian clubs playing at home in African competition were only allowed to have restricted crowds.

On a rare occasion, like when Tunisia’s national team played Cameroon in a play-off tie for a place at the last World Cup in Brazil, was a full stadium allowed.

For Sunday’s Final, 12 000 tickets have been made available for the 28,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Sousse.

They were available only for purchase online in a first for a major African club competition match.

All were sold in record time and club officials and the Tunisian Football Federation have requested a further 8,000 be made available for sale – also only via the web – because of the massive demand. 

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