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 Tackling football hooliganism
Hooliganism is becoming a serious problem in the Ethiopian football arena

 Tackling football hooliganism

The Ethiopian Premier League (EPL), for years on end, has faced many challenges in growing, promoting and attracting a wider audience. In recent years, the League and the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) have been faced with an insurmountable task of abating football hooliganism which has plagued the sport in recent years.

Blamed by several clubs for the cause of this acts are referees. Coupled with blaming referees, the political tension and unrest in the country has also led to fans airing their frustration in a sporting arena, disrupting the decorum of the game.

The EFF, considering incidents taking place across the country during match days and the volatile nature of the politics involved, was forced to reschedule football matches time and time again, forcing the season to end outside the regular program.

Becoming an exasperating issue and a normalcy in stadiums across the country, the Federal Sport Commission, the EFF, as well as other clubs have held an awareness raising sessions. Titled “Sports Discipline Sources,” Saint George FC has held an awareness raising sessions at Sheraton Addis from April 22-23, 2019.

The meeting, which focused on discussing sources of sport discipline, mainly concentrated on football hooliganism in the country. It concluded with a draft resolution regarding fans’ security and sport discipline issues.

The draft resolution lists out several points to be undertaken by all the parties involved. Among which are the issues of ticket selling systems in stadiums, bars and taverns around the stadiums, raising political issues and the issue of spectators who are not members of the club.

Experts who took part in the session highlighted the need to manage all security issues in the regions equally. Several experts at the session stated that current clubs which are being managed by city administrations, associations and government institutions should follow proper regulations. According to the assessment of the experts, the main cause for football hooliganism is happening due to clubs not following proper regulations. However, many clubs have been complaining over the bias and actions of security forces in regional stadiums.   

Furthermore, a research, presented in the session elaborated that the EFF disciplinary committee was not reporting matches properly and take an equivalent decision immediately. The session further discussed about medias’ fairness alongside violations in sport arenas. The Ethiopian Sport Journalist Association (ESJA) presented the general sport activity of the country.

ESJA executive director Yonas Teshome stated that the reason for the increasing insecure sports culture is that of the less attention given by the government, the backwardness of the EFF and the violation of the rule of law. Regarding the media, Yonas insisted that, “There is a problem in generalizing the whole media organization rather than naming the responsible one.”

Yonas explained the main hindrances facing journalists while they are working in various media organizations. Biased report, unhealthy relationship with players, clubs, coaches and reporting without a source are mentioned as the main problems.

To end, the session concluded with lamenting the need to create an awareness raising sessions in order to make sport arenas peace.

In a related news, week 21 of EPL matches between South Police and Woliata Dicha was held in Addis Ababa stadium due to violence in Hawassa Stadium while the game between Hawassa City and St. George was held in Assela Stadium.

In a longstanding rivalry or derbies, it is somewhat normal to see a fracas between opposing players or fans outside the stadium. However, adding politics in the mix has resulted for it to be reflected on the pitch rearing its ugly head and trickling onto the fans.

It is to be remembered that at the beginning of the EPL season, games between the two regional clubs, Amhara and Tigray, was impossible to conduct due to unrest in the regions. And only after the regions administrators came to a solution that the games commenced.

Regardless, the EFF has the mandate to find a solution to manage the conflict and execute punishments on clubs involved in such incidents.