Since the 2006, 2008, and 2010 African Cup of Nations, football became very important to Egyptians, as the country won the title three times in a row.
Egyptians are very keen and excited to watch football matches with friends or family.
Moreover, they prefer to watch the matches while having hot drinks and smoking shisha or cigarettes at coffee shops, which turns the airing of football matches into a business opportunity for coffee shop owners resulting in higher revenues and profits.
Egyptian local coffee shops use football matches to increase or double their income through creating an attractive atmosphere to a large segment of Egyptian football fans.
It is cheaper for the fans than subscribing to the service at home, and increases the income for coffee shops.
But why do Egyptians like to watch matches at coffee shops? And how does that affect the coffee shops?
Daily News Egypt took a peak into the new economy of football tournament fans and coffee shops.
Shisha and hot drinks: how Egyptians watch football
Since the age of the pharaohs, Egyptians have always had their own traditions and unique approach to many things.
But Egyptians did not stop at celebrating their events with special dishes, building their tombs as pyramids, and creating their special dancing styles. Egyptians created their own way of cheering for their football teams, be it football clubs or the national team.
For a lot of Egyptians, there is nothing better than watching a football match while drinking mint-flavored tea and smoking shisha, and babbling with their friends about the players’ performance.
However, some people prefer to watch their favourite matches with their families.
Daily News Egypt asked people about how they prefer to watch their football matches.
Sherief Sobhy, a 32-year-old lawyer, said that he cannot feel the game without watching it in a coffee shop, adding that he prefers to watch the matches with his close friends and his favourite drinks.
He added that the atmosphere in the coffee shop makes him feel the spirit of cheering for his team, adding that when the national team won the match against Burkina Faso or Morocco, the people celebrated in the streets, and their happiness was indescribable.
Ahmed El-Shazly has the same preference of watching football matches with his friends, adding that friends can enhance the experience by exchanging comments and opinions.
“Usually, we cheer for different football teams, and we always fight when my team loses,” El-Shazly said.
The graphic designer added that sometimes, he watches the matches with his family because he hates when the streets get crowded.
“I love to watch the matches with my wife and my little daughter,” Zamalek-fan and father Haitham Emam said, adding that he likes to share these moments with his wife.
He said that he usually supports Barcelona FC, while his wife likes Real Madrid, and whoever supports the losing team gets teased by the other person.
However, Emam said that sometimes he might take his wife and daughter to watch a match in a coffee house to change the routine.
Mina Wiliam, a driver, said that he likes to smoke shisha while watching the match, adding that it’s a tradition of his during important matches.
However, on the other side of the society, women do not have the same opportunities as men in Egypt.
Dina Khaled, an accountant working in a bank, says that she cannot watch the match at any place but home. He added that she cannot go out to such crowded places.
She believes that local coffee shops which provide football matches aren’t usually suitable for females, and families feel that they aren’t safe for women.
Graduate of the faculty of law Youmna Tarek said that she sometimes watches football matches in coffee shops but she has to go with one of her family members or her whole family.
Aliaa Hassan, a business administrator, has more freedom to watch a football match at a coffee shop with her friends. She said that watching a match with her friends is one of her favourite things to do.
“My father dismissed the idea but I convinced him,” she said, adding that nowadays, she likes to watch the Egyptian national football team with her friends at malls in 6th of October City.
The business behind airing football matches in coffee shops
They provide coffee, tea, sahlab, and shisha in their customers’ favourite flavours—the coffee shops that air football matches.
A lot of coffee shops in Cairo opt to air Egyptian and international football matches for their customers in order to attract even more.
They like to work in such atmospheres, in which everybody is generous, likes to give more tips, and also consumes more than usual.
Daily News Egypt asked coffee shop employees about how football matches affect their business, why people like to watch football matches at their place, and how much this service costs them.
Mahmoud El-Masry, who works in a coffee shop downtown, believes that during a football match, the number of customers more than doubles, adding that people like to watch any important game in a coffee shop while having drinks and smoking cigarettes or shisha.
He said that the cost of subscribing for a three-month airing contract for a coffee shop is EGP 1,400, adding that providing the African cup alone costs EGP 565.
El-Masry said that workers’ wages aren’t affected by any profit increases, adding that he takes EGP 100 a day.
He said that Egyptian customers prefer to watch important international matches and the Egyptian national football. The most popular matches tend to be Al-Ahly and Zamalek matches, as well as European championships.
“People love to watch European and national teams,” according to Asaad Saber, who works in a local coffee shop downtown.
He added that many people love to hang out in coffee shops all day long, whether there are matches or not.
Saber said that acquiring the necessary contract to allow airing football matches costs around EGP 2,500, including all the relevant channels that air the matches.
However, according to Saber, shisha consumption is lower during the matches than usual. He explained that usually, people consume 100 servings of Shisha, but during a match, they consume less.
For Mohamed Taison, who works in a coffee shop on King Faisal Street, the matches are the “best thing ever”. In the coffee shop he works in, the price of any drink increases to EGP 10, which brings in a lot of tips for him and his colleagues.
He said that watching a match with friends in a coffee shop enhances the atmosphere of the game and makes the overall experience better.
Taison said that if on a normal day the shop makes EGP 500, on a match day, that same shop may make over EGP 1,000.
He also said that a lot of people stay after the match to talk about the game and the players’ performance.
Mahmoud Shokry agrees with Taison. In his coffee shop in Dokki, people tend to consume more than normal and the shop’s income almost doubles.
He said that people prefer to watch the game in a coffee shop because he creates a nice atmosphere for them, and they can watch the game on a big screen which they otherwise may not have at home.
In his coffee shop, the price of tea is EGP 3, Turkish coffee is EGP 6, soft drinks are EGP 8, and any other fresh cold drinks cost EGP 10.
Outside of match days, Shokry’s coffee shop is quiet. He said that he and his colleagues love working on match days because their customers’ spirits are high and the banter is funny.