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African Nations Cup bids to entice fans with tickets under $1

State employees are being allowed to leave their offices at 2PM on match days in order to attend games

Published: Updated:

African Nations Cup organizers will charge less than $1 for some tickets in a bid to entice spectators and the president of hosts Equatorial Guinea plans to give away 40,000 seats.

Tickets for venues in Ebebiyin and Mongomo on the eastern border of the small central African country will cost between 500 and 5000 CFA Francs ($0.88-$8.84), the local organizing committee said on Thursday.

In Bata and Malabo prices will range from 1000 to 15,000 ($1.77-$26.53).

All four venues host the same number of first round and quarter-final matches, but Bata, where Saturday’s opening games are being played, and Malabo will also host the semi-finals.

The final is in Bata on Feb. 8.

There were desperately poor attendances when Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the event with neighbors Gabon in 2012 and locals are being urged to watch as much of this year’s continental championship as possible.

“We have to give solemnity to Nations Cup, it is necessary to buy tickets to fill the stadiums,” the country’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema said earlier this week.

“Let those who have the means, help the poor,” he added, saying he would pay for 10,000 tickets at each of the four venues.

State employees are being allowed to leave their offices at 2PM on match days in order to attend games.

The African Nations Cup has often been marred by the specter of empty stadiums, with some tournaments struggling to fill venues even when the host nation is playing.