The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) will hold elections for the presidency and executive committee members on Sunday, August 28, 2022, in Addis Ababa. Regional governments and local governments have begun proposing candidates to lead the Federation for the next four years.
Candidates for president have been nominated by three regions.
Oromia regional state nominated Isaias Jira, who has led the national federation for the past four years, for a second term, while Amhara regional state submitted Melaku Fenta, Amhara Bank board chairman, and Dire Dawa City Administration presented Tokicha Alemayehu (Eng.).
The three contenders publicly advertised their programs in a media briefing this week.
After being vetted by the elected executive and appeals committees, the EFF announced the final list of candidates for the EFF’s presidency and its executive committee. As a result, three presidential candidates and 32 executive committee members will compete in this election.
The current EFF president, Isayas Jirra, has had a successful four years, particularly in the development of the league corporation, the cooperation contract with DSTV, and, of course, Ethiopia’s qualification for the African Cup of Nations.
Furthermore, the current administration has developed prospective national teams of various ages and genders. The organization has also amassed vast sums of money through various sponsorship agreements.
However, it is widely expected that the election will be difficult to determine who will win, and whoever takes the helm faces a difficult task.
The incumbent president declared during the campaign that the next topics on the list for the next term will be club licensing concerns, solid institutional structure, and enhancing the national team.
However, the incumbent faces a tough task in retaining his position and governing for a second term in the form of heavyweight candidates vying for the position.
Tokicha Alemayehu (Eng.), a candidate for the Executive Committee and the presidency for the next four years representing Dire Dawa, explained to The Reporter why he decided to run.
According to him, he decided to run for office after his company signed a sponsorship agreement with the federation and discovered that the federation had restricted execution.
“Despite the fact that Ethiopia is one of the countries that started the Africa Cup of Nations competition, it is disappointing that Ethiopian football has not achieved the level of modern football,” Tokicha said.
He noted that, in addition to competing, the Ethiopian national team must develop a style of football that can demonstrate appealing and promising actions to the audience.
Tokicha is certain that Ethiopian football has not received the economic benefits it deserves and that football is a self-sufficient industry in its own right. Football can thus manage transportation, trade, and tourism.
“We Ethiopians do not think football should be like Brazil. On the other hand, I believe we should use it economically,” Tokicha told The Reporter.
Tokicha says a fundamental shift in football is required to produce not only talented players but also acceptable infrastructure, skilled referees, qualified coaches, medical specialists, and capable clubs.
He emphasized that building sufficient financial capacity in football is the key pillar of success, and that in order to do so, a federation that allows businesses to enter football and sell products is required.
Problems with stadiums have recently come to the forefront, despite efforts to build and upgrade them to standards.
However, the national team is compelled to play its home matches in the stadiums of other countries, denying their fans. The issues facing stadiums will, however, be a difficult task for the new candidates who will run the national federation for the next four years.
Tokicha believes the issues concerning the stadiums would be resolved under his leadership. “It was an opportunity for the federation to bring the stadiums that had been constructed up to par.”
“It is not appropriate for the national team to play in foreign stadiums when minor issues of regionally built stadiums can be implemented with the help of local investors,” Tokicha said.
Tokicha, who has experienced business success, thinks it is important to grasp football’s wealth. He feels that the federation should be directed by young people.
One of the contenders is Melaku Fanta, a former director general of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority and current CEO of the Amhara Development Association, as well as the founder and chairman of the board of Amhara Bank.
He noted that before presenting himself as a candidate for the EFF leadership, he had a comprehensive and in-depth discussion with all stakeholders, both individually and as a group, about what football needed.
“This is the proper time for us to stand and prepare for the revolution of our sport,” Melaku remarked during a press conference.
According to Melaku, football is a vast sector that moves billions of dollars and is driven by commercial principles, as evidenced by international experience, according to Melaku.
“Our population is 120 million people. More than half of our population is young and passionate about football. To put it another way, we have untapped potential and wealth,” Melaku added.
He emphasized the need to develop an institution regulated by law and order by making an informed choice and creating a system that is encouraging, accountable, and that clubs are financially reinforced, strengthen the financial and audit systems, and satisfy the criteria of CAF and FIFA.
If elected, he promised to strengthen the Federation’s administrative ability, to carry on the good work already begun, to fill up the gaps, to implement legal and organizational reforms, to staff the national institution with skilled experts, and to carry out continuous capacity building.
Melaku is confident that part of the strategy to allow the national team to play home matches is the expansion of the sports base and the completion of the stadiums that have already begun.
Internal conflict predominates in Ethiopian football, which has never been free of politics or avoided controversy, and draws more attention from the public than the actual game.
Many people believe political affiliations and appointments are common in the sports industry and are one of the reasons for its lack of significant growth compared to neighboring countries.