Since we have been in Tunisia, we have attended two soccer games at two different stadiums. The games have been of rival times but not pitted against each other. There are, as to be expected, security and police at checkpoints throughout the entrances, but they aren’t looking for alcohol like we thought. Actually, they pat down all attendees searching for fireworks. Inevitably, some will get through and be thrown on the field (or on other fans) and police promptly extinguish them. As if they stadium wasn’t smokey enough from all the cigarettes….
Our first game, Club Esperance, was enjoyable but disappointing. Our adopted club lost in the added injury time of the second 15-minute extra play. The stadium wasn’t packed and it rained some, but the game was still fun to watch despite these conditions.
The Club Africain game came with a promise for Tunisian soccer at it’s best. Club Africain fans are noted to be quite passionate, so it was no surprise that after a month-long break due to the Africa Cup, the opening game vs. Gafsa attracted a sizeable crowd. At all soccer game in Tunis, there are hardly any women in sight; the stadium is overwhelmingly filled with men. (Since every moment is a math moment) let’s have a math moment: The capacity of Stadium el Menzah is 45,000. With the stadium 3/4 full (only the “Gafsa fans” sections were empty), we can estimate that 33,750 fans were in attendance. During the (long) walk through security, I saw 6 women. While waiting for a friend to join our group, I spotted another 5. This took roughly 45 min, stadium opened 3 hours before the game (1/4 total time observed) multiplied by 2 major entrances, and let’s add 15 women to account for estimation error. Got your answer? 103, which is only 0.23% total attendance of women. Represent. Club Africain took the win with two goals and we escaped the stadium without getting trampled (arguably a notable achievement).