ADDIS ABABA, June 5, 2019 – The 2018/19 Ethiopian Premier League season is in its final stages where Fasil Kenema FC (52pts), Mekele 70 Enderta FC (49pts) – who still have a game in hand – and Sidama Coffee FC (49pts) are closely contesting to become champions with only three match days left. But the league has been suspended by the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF).
The decision is believed to be as a result of the continuous off-field altercations between stakeholders, which recently escalated after the match between title hopefuls Mekele 70 Enderta FC and a traditional powerhouse Ethiopia Buna FC, was cancelled last Sunday, due to a security reason in Addis Ababa.
The suspended match led to the country’s football governing body releasing a statement that reads: “Following the security issue informed by the government, EFF has decided that the suspended match will be played in Adama, 110KM to South from the capital, on the 6th of June, 2019 and behind a closed doors.” However, the decision was fiercely opposed by Ethiopia Buna FC.
Ethiopia Buna FC, who sit 11th in the league with just 34 points, opposed the decision by claiming it’s totally against the best interest of the club, especially as there is no solid premise to the supposed security threats. The club also stated that, the decision will cost the club more than a million birrs on match day revenue and would have an immense negative impact on their performance if they play without their fans. The club also threatened to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), if the EFF failed to reconsider their decision.
After a sequence of correspondences between the two parties, the federation and the club, regarding the matter, other uninvited stakeholders such as clubs and national federations joined in by forwarding their own suggestions on the way out from the mess.
The involvement of others put a massive pressure on the federation, hence their latest decision suspend all the league fixtures until a consensus is reached among all stakeholders.
Following the ongoing hiccups, for many, the worst is yet to come and this might be the beginning of an end to Ethiopian football’s double round robin league format, which has continued to create havoc in recent times since most of the clubs in the league are ethnically backed.