Egypt's Manchester United Supporters' Club has just become officially affiliated with the British club, making it only the second fan organisation in Africa to reach that status. We talk to founder Mohammed Seif to find out more...
After a quite dreadful season last time around where Manchester United finished seventh in the league without a trophy, Egyptian Reds now have something to celebrate, aside from being able to play with Falcao and Di Maria on their team in FIFA 2015. Man Utd have officially acknowledged Manchester United Supporters' Club Egypt as the country's officially affiliated supporters club, making us only the second country in Africa to have one.
Founded in 2013 by Red fanatics Mohammed Seif, Mohamed Yassin, Ali El Khatib and Sherif Hassan, the group has grown by in large accommodating to the droves of United supporters living in Egypt. They get together watch matches, discuss tactics and, we assume, throw darts at David Moyes' face. We talk to co-founder Mohammed Seif to find out more...
Do you have any stats on how many Man Utd fans there are in Egypt?
Its quite difficult to pinoint exactly the number of 'true' fans, but a quick look at Manchester United's official Facebook page shows you that out of all the clubs in England, Egyptian Manchester United fans are the largest. As per latest demographic results, there were around 1.5 million Egyptians on the United fan page as opposed to Arsenal who were around 1.2 million and others less than that. Numbers are staggering and Egyptians do like United. True fans though, that's another question...
How many members do you have now?
Since we first official started the supporters' club in 2013, we've steadily grown in numbers. On Facebook we currently just surpassed 1000 likes, all of them pure United fans and purely organic. On Twitter we bypassed the 500 follower mark and are increasing. Our official MUSC Egypt 2014/15 are currently 50 official members and increasing as well.
How did the idea come about to start it in the beginning?
I've been a United fan pretty much since I was around 9 (the 93/94 season) up until now. From supporting to writing about them, they're pretty much in my blood. I had the idea of creating a supporters' club in around 2011 after researching different clubs in other countries and the concept of communities. I talked to a friend of mine in 2012 about setting it up. I had a couple of calls with other founders of Supporters' Clubs in the Middle East (namely Lebanon, Bahrain and the UAE), and had a meeting with United officials in 2012 discussing the future and the possibility of it. Finally, in the summer of 2013, a group of four people (me, Mohamed, Ali, and Sherif) properly put a plan to launch it officially, with an aim to obtain the official status by the 2014/15 season. The rest was history.
What is the process to becoming an official supporters club of a Premier League team?
It varies between different clubs, with the bigger clubs requiring more to achieve that status. Its not just about getting your name listed on the website, its more than that. Supporter clubs in general are communities that bring people bounded by a love of something closer together. The official process of becoming a United SC requires that you create this community, expand the name of the club throughout the country, establish an NGO with proper weekly meeting, sending in a portfolio and most importantly, getting 50 official members to join the United One Membership (become official members on a yearly basis for a fee of 32 GBP). We've done all this and more, and thus are now officially recognised.
What does it mean when you become an official supporters club, are there any benefits?
There are various benefits when you become an 'official' supporters' club. Yes, its initially a community of die-hard United fans who eventually became a group of friends, but that official recognition definitely adds weight both on a local and international level. As an official supporters' club we get various benefits which include special allocation for tickets to our members, exclusive signed shirts from players and managers, special discounts, international recognition, players possibly coming in especially for us and more. Soon enough a special message from someone pretty big at the club will be heading our way, so keep an eye out!
What kind of activities do you do as the supporters club? Can anyone join?
A supporters' club role is bring a community of die-hard United fans together through different activities. Watching games together, special screenings for documentaries, playing 5-a-side football games, special trips to Old Trafford and much more! Anyone who loves United can come and enjoy all those activities, but our members enjoy exclusively various benefits across the season.
What's your favourite Man Utd memory?
That's difficult. Lots of memories. Three standout though; two general and one rather more personal. The 98/99 Bayern Champions League comeback - the 'Solsjkaer has won' it bit of commentary. Second is the John Terry penalty miss and Van Der Sar saving the penalty to win us the Champions League in 2008 in Moscow. Goosebumps. Third one is the first time Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut in the Bolton game. An infinite number of stopovers and white boots. I was jumping all over the place.
When is next meet up?
Our next meet-up is the WBA game screening. We'll be watching the game at All the Perks in Heliopolis and it'll be our first game after becoming officially official. You can expect an ecelectic atmosphere as always, loads of banter and singing! Just grab your United flag, don your United kit and come with a full voice. Its Old Trafford away from Old Trafford, you're guaranteed a good time.
For more info on how to become a member click here.