“I’m not as enthusiastic as I usually am at the World Cup,” says Mathieu Youbi. The businessman from Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé is organizing trips to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But demand is limited due to the corona pandemic and global inflation. “The economic situation is slowing down spending. Companies that used to offer their managers trips to motivate them have decided not to do so this time,” reports Youbi. “I organized fan trips for five World Cups and I have the comparison: interest in this World Cup is not as great as at the other tournaments.”
The “Indomitable Lions”, as Cameroon’s internationals are known, are returning to the most prestigious tournament in world football after missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The fans dream that the national team in Qatar will pull off a coup like that at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when the team led by the legendary Roger Milla reached the quarter-finals and only had to admit defeat to England after extra time.
However, fans’ enthusiasm for the World Cup is currently being dampened by the economic downturn in Cameroon. In August 2022 alone, food prices rose by almost 14 percent. “I doubt that I can achieve my sales goals,” says travel entrepreneur Youbi. “The Cameroonians are not [an WM-Reisen – Anm. d. Red.] Interested. You just have to say: This World Cup is too expensive.”
Ghana seek revenge against Uruguay
This also applies to most people in football-mad Ghana. Inflation in the West African country was 37 percent last September alone, and the Zedi currency lost 40 percent of its value. “We are waiting to hear from the government how many fans they will sponsor for the trip to Qatar,” said Abraham Boakye, founder of the Ghana National Supporters Union fan organization. In September, Ghana’s Sports Minister Mustapha Ussif said the government would not use taxpayers’ money to send fans to the World Cup. They are trying to raise money for it from other sources. So far, nothing has gone beyond the declaration of intent.
Fans like Boakye are looking forward to the World Cup, partly because of Ghana’s possible revenge against Uruguay. In the group stage, the “Black Stars” meet the South Americans, who inflicted a bitter defeat on them in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In added time, Uruguay’s striker Luis Suarez had prevented Ghana’s winner with a deliberate handball. Suarez saw the red card, Asamoah Gyan put the penalty on the crossbar. The Uruguay team won the penalty shoot-out that followed. Ghana failed to become the first African nation to advance to a World Cup semi-final. “Everyone wants to see this game again,” says Boakye. “Luckily Suarez is still playing.”
No euphoria in North Africa
For Morocco, the World Cup in Qatar is not about revenge, but about doing better than in the last tournament. In 2018 in Russia, when the country started the fifth World Cup, the team was eliminated as the group from last. Mehdi Charqi was there as a fan at the time. However, he will not travel to Qatar. “I’ve gotten older and have different priorities today,” Charqi told DW. “But I also don’t think Qatar is a footballing country where I can enjoy a World Cup. I had really great experiences in Russia. And I want to cherish those memories.”
In addition to Morocco, Tunisia is another North African country in Qatar. Despite the geographical proximity of the World Cup host country, Algerian football historian Adel Haddad expects only a few supporters from both teams to attend the tournament. “It will be difficult for fans from North Africa to travel to Qatar. The tickets are 30 percent more expensive than in Russia in 2018. Then there are the costs for a visa, travel and accommodation,” Haddad told DW. “Only a few fans can afford that.”
This article was adapted from English by Stefan Nestler.