Meet the influential YouTuber who wants you to go to the stadium
Mohamed Abouzeid is a member of the FIFA Fan Movement from Egypt
He's one of the most influential YouTube personalities talking about Egyptian football
Learn about the Fan Movement and join the conversation with #WeLiveFootball
It may seem oxymoronic, but Mohamed Abouzeid, a FIFA Fan Movement member who has found success in the digital space as a YouTube personality, believes that potentially the biggest problem facing football is the lack of a stadium-going culture among youth.
Mohamed's love for football stems from his mother's family's support of Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly - he has been a fan of Africa's most successful club since 1991. His club football loyalties extend beyond Egypt, though, and ever since he watched AC Milan compete for Europe's biggest trophies in the early 90s on television, he was hooked. It helps that the two clubs' colours are similar, too. As soon as he was making his own money and had his first job after university, Abouzeid made a trip to Italy to watch his beloved AC Milan play Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.
Mohamed now has his own YouTube channel called "El Kaweer" (which means The Footballer) and it has nearly 230,000 subscribers at the time of writing. It's been an incredible success story for Abouzeid, especially considering that he published his first video in February 2018.
"It all came about because I opened and filled out a survey from FIFA that came to me via email - you know, the kind of email you don't normally open (laughs)," said Abouzeid. "But thankfully I opened it that day."
Mohamed's thoughtful responses to the survey prompted FIFA to follow up with him and eventually invite him to the FIFA Fan Focus Group 2016 in Zurich. After that experience, he thought, 'If FIFA cares about my opinion so much, I should share my opinions with the wider football world.'
He started writing about football on his personal Facebook page but he didn't feel the experience was interactive enough, so in May 2017 he decided to start a YouTube channel. After months of training himself in editing software and preparing, his first video went up.
"It was amazing, to be honest," said Abouzeid. "I didn't tell many people that I was doing it. It started with my family and friends supporting it. After the Russia 2018 World Cup I started to take it very seriously. Between August 2018 and April 2019, I reached 100,000 subscribers. I enjoy it and I feel like finally I'm doing the thing I love."
Abouzeid works as a credit analyst but he's carved out a niche for himself to use his lifelong passion of football to serve fans, especially in the Arabsphere.
"It's harsh to say, but I don't appreciate the majority of sports media presented to the Arab world," said Abouzeid. "They don't treat football in the right way; they only follow the trends and to find controversial things to talk about. It's all about viewership and advertisements. They don't work on the mentality of football fans or to help improve their football knowledge. That's what I'm trying to do, myself along with other Egyptian and Arabic YouTubers."
Abouzeid has ambitions to move into sport management roles to in order to help improve the state of African football, in areas of governance, organisation and media communication.
For him, social media is a blessing and a curse. "It brings fans from different countries a lot closer to each other. Before I had no connection with fans from our African opponents in place like Tunisia, Morocco or Algeria. Now we have a lot of interaction and we are starting to understand each other and it has brought us closer.
"The negative side, especially in Egyptian football, is that we have a generation that have grown up seeing empty stands. I'm talking about kids around 8 or 9-years-old who know nothing about the stadium experience in Egypt. This is very dangerous."
Abouzeid has spoken a lot about the subject on his YouTube channel, and it's a complicated issue with several obstacles.
"The backbone of any successful football system is the local league. I want to be able to see a match each week with full stands. This is my dream."