WHAT WE LEARNED IN NFL WEEK 10: Brilliant Bears and terrific Titans

Nov 11, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Atlanta Falcons strong safety Damontae Kazee (27) tackles Cleveland Browns wide receiver Breshad Perriman (19) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Updated 16 November 2018
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WHAT WE LEARNED IN NFL WEEK 10: Brilliant Bears and terrific Titans

We are over halfway in the NFL season and getting a better picture of who is in the running for January’s Playoffs. Arab News looks at what we learned from Week 10 of the world’s greatest gridiron league.

BEARS ON THE RISE
Whisper it, but the Chicago Bears could go a long way this season. It is fair to say, Chi-Town’s football team has been a blotch on the city’s sporting record in recent decades. Since the Bears’ defensive masterclass won them a Super Bowl in 1985, the iconic Bulls in the NBA, the rise and rise of the Blackhawks in ice hockey and the White Sox and Cubs winning a World Series have rendered them the poor cousins of Chicago’s sporting scene. But this current crop have really stepped up this season and, after yet another victory this week, find themselves in the unfamiliar position of leading the NFC North division. They might not get to the Big Game, but this Bears team is finally one the city can be proud of.

PENALTIES DECIDE FORTUNES
One of the big factors in this season’s surprise package LA Rams’ success has been their discipline. Coming into Week 10, the Rams had given away just 45 penalties, an average of five per game — second fewest in the league. So, that they gave away 10 infractions this weekend and nearly lost a tight game with the Seahawks, highlights just how important staying on the referee’s good side is to a team with serious Super Bowl ambitions. You can have a quality quarterback, rapid running backs and titanic tight-ends — if the discipline is not there, it will cost you a run at the Super Bowl.

CLEVELAND BROWNS ARE ALIVE
There is life in Cleveland, at last. Not since 2015 have the Browns won three games in a season. And with 6 games left in the season, they could win a fourth of the season for the first time in four years. Their 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons this weekend showed that this Browns team is packed-full of talent, but is lacking the right guidance. General Manager John Dorsey should use the highlights of this match in his search for a new head coach, as the Browns did not look like a 3-1-6 team, but needs the right man to guide it to respectability. Meanwhile, the defeat for the Falcons has put them on the brink of becoming also-rans for the Playoffs, they realistically need to win six — perhaps all seven — of their remaining games.

TITANS SHOW US THEIR WORTH
Tennessee have been hovering on the outskirts of Playoff contention all year, and their shock dismantling of the New England Patriots gave as an insight into what this team is really capable of. Mike Vrabel’s defense were all over Tom Brady from the kick-off and relentlessly pressured him all game. They got lucky at times — Josh Gordon’s uncharacteristic dropped passes helped — and made sure they capitalized when they stopped the Patriots offense. This Titans team burst out of the blocks and rushed past the Patriots early, taking a 17-3 lead. It just shows, take the game to the Patriots early and their defensive frailties can be exploited.


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”