The Tigray Football Federation (TFF) says the Ethiopian Football Federation’s (EFF) recent decision on regional club divisions is unfair and ignores the conflict that has kept Tigray clubs from playing.
Mekele City, Suhul Shire, and Welwalo Adigrat University represented Tigray in the 2019–20 Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) season. But due to the war in northern Ethiopia, the clubs have been sidelined since.
However, the EFF executive committee decided that clubs competing in the EPL should resume competition based on their level in various leagues. Accordingly, EPL clubs should resume in the top EPL, higher league clubs should participate in the Super League, and first division league clubs should compete in the Tigray Region second division league, one level lower.
According to letters from the TFF, Tigray clubs have been absent for three years through no fault of their own. The decision failed to consider “the harsh realities on the ground” in Tigray and contradicted the new peace deal, said the TFF.
The TFF says it will consult with regional clubs in the coming days before announcing a final decision regarding their league divisions.
The EFF cited Article 91 of its bylaws, which states the executive committee has authority to make decisions “in the event of an unexpected, sudden, and irreparable situation.”
The article stipulates that clubs absent from competition for longer than permitted must start in a lower division. The EFF executive committee decided to move the Tigray clubs down one level “to revive the sport in the region and return to previous competition,” per Section 9 of its regulations.
However, the TFF says the EFF decision fails to consider the unique circumstances that kept Tigray clubs out of competition for so long. The TFF plans to announce its own decision after consulting with the clubs.