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Football spoiled by hooliganism

Spoiled by despicable acts on and off the pitch, football hooligans and their deeds forced the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF), time and time again, to postpone matches and rearrange venues, to address the insurmountable task of keeping it all about the game. Football, confused with a political view point by fans, exasperated the situation with often than not ending up in injuries on referees, fans and destruction of properties.  

However, with all the ups and downs in the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL), this year has still witnessed, and welcomed a new club as its champion. Mekele 70 Enderta won the EPL for the first time with Coach Gebremedhin Haile at the helm. Furthermore, Mekele’s achievements meant that Coach Gebremedhin has won a title back-to-back, with different teams. The first was with Jimma Aba Jifar, who ran away with the lead last season.

Fasil City, Led by Webetu Abat, finished the season on a high, and finished third, providing a worthy battle until the final day of the match week, coming just short of the finish line. They finished the season with a two point difference from the leader, capping there good season by winning the Ethiopian cup.

Joining the two in the EPL summit is Sidama Coffee, which finished second in this year’s EPL season taking-up the non-beneficial position.

Finishing the season first and third, both Mekele and Fasil took part in the preliminary round for the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup, respectively. Mekele, who lost 3-2 on aggregate to Cano Sport, narrowly missed out on the cut to participate in the continental competition. After the disappointing end to a CAF Champions league preliminary round, Mekele’s Coach Gebremedhin submitted his resignation letter to the football clubs hierarchy.       

Likewise, Fasil City, who has taken part in this year’s international competition for the first time in the clubs history, lost out to Azam FC with an aggregate 2-3 score line in a closely contested tie. Fasil City, champions in the 2018/19 Ethiopian Cup, also parted ways with their manager Coach Webetu, with the latter opting to join the newly promoted side, Sebeta City.

Referees made a scapegoat for the sporadic violence which has disrupted the decorum of the sport at first, which was here and there, grew into what the politics viewed, during the year.  Plaguing the football scene with uncertainty, destruction, riots and injuries originating from the identity politics prevalent in the society, disorder poured into the stadium with the easiest of sporting decisions leading to a fractious end.

When disruptive behavior in hooligans became unwavering, the EFF held meetings and discussed sports discipline and hooliganism by and large. Ending in a draft resolution, the meeting further entertained fans security, listing out points to be undertaken by all parties involved. Among the points to be considered included the ticket selling systems found in stadiums, to be improved.    

Adding salt to injury to a league held by a string, on and off the pitch problems stained the Federation. With schedule disrupted throughout the year, plus safety concerns led Addis Ababa City Clubs, including St. George and Ethiopia Coffee, sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set a new league format for the upcoming EPL season. The 22 clubs representatives reached an agreement not to travel to regional stadiums to play their fixtures. However, the MoU signed between the clubs has not yet been recognized by the EFF.

With problems not able to abate, players have also entered the fray by denouncing the newly implemented salary cap. After votes were tallied and a consensus was reached between the EFF, the Sports Commission and 12 EPL clubs representatives to put a salary cap of USD 1736 or 50,000 birr on a monthly basis.