Wednesday, November 29, 2023
SportTigray's football return

Tigray’s football return

– Federation election to determine sporting future

– Southwest region submits representatives

Tigray aims to rejoin Ethiopian football through the upcoming Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) election, as three candidates from the region step up to fill executive roles and bring Tigrayan clubs back into national tournaments.

Looking to expand representation, the EFF election committee has called a supplementary vote for October 29th to fill several executive positions. One goal is to integrate Tigray, which has been absent from national sporting affairs for over two years, by adding a candidate from the long-sidelined region.

Awol Abdurahim, former Dedebit FC manager and vice president of the EFF, is aiming to guide Tigray’s return. He will be up against Hiwot Arefiayene and Asfaw Tsegaye, all nominated by the Tigray National Regional Government Football Federation. Their bids to join the executive reflect the region’s drive to reintegrate after its football clubs were forced to withdraw from competition due to conflict a conflict between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. 

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Prior to that, Mekele City, Suhul Shire and Welwalo Adigrat represented Tigray in the top-flight Ethiopian Premier League. But with the war keeping them away from nationwide play, their status had been uncertain.

The EFF executive committee has devised a framework for clubs to resume competition, laying out placement in divisions commensurate with performance.

Elite clubs that previously participated in the top-tier will restart in the EPL division. Those from higher leagues will join the Super League competition. Meanwhile, first division clubs from Tigray will enter the regional second division league, placing them one level below their status prior to the interruption of play.

Clubs are preparing to register anew for the national competitions under new leadership.

In another sign of Tigray’s football resurgence, the regional federation has cleared all clubs to enter this season’s national tournaments, signalling the region’s return to the national football scene.

This election also presents an opportunity for other regions to choose representatives as well.

The newly formed Southwest and Afar region have submitted candidates, demonstrating growing inclusivity in the EFF.

Representing the Afar region are Ibrahim Mukhtar and Aseya Abdulqadir, nominated by the Afar National Regional Government Football Federation. However, Alimirah Mohammed, who has served three terms as the Afar representative in the EFF, was disqualified for not meeting the committee’s criteria.

The recently established Southwest Ethiopia Region, formed through a referendum, has named Mearegu Habtemariam, Helen Debebe, and Israel Ataro as its candidates.

The national football federation has stated that any candidates deemed ineligible for candidacy or otherwise affected by the committee’s decisions retain the right to appeal those rulings within three days.

The 15th Regular General Assembly of the EFF, including the supplementary elections, is scheduled to take place on October 29, 2023 in Addis Ababa. This assembly marks an important moment for Ethiopian football as it will determine the new representatives who will guide the sport’s future in the country.

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