By Festus Chuma
The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) is scheduled to hold its much-anticipated elections not later than June 3 as instructed by football world governing body Fifa.
Before then EFF is supposed to have convened an extraordinary general assembly to adopt an electoral code, elect a new electoral commission and a new appeals committee.
The polls have been postponed four times previously amidst persistent wrangles over the electoral process but still there is high expectations that Ethiopia football will again be on course to regain its luster but this could be aborted on an altar of corruption.
It is common to hear one of various presidential candidates say “I want to run for president” but the conversely, sleaze and vested interests may constrain progress as some of candidates have been accused of interfering with the process.
One candidate that has been on limelight of Ethiopia media is former football boss Ashebir Woldegiorgis who is seeking to make a return to the same federation he run down.
His first tour of duty between 2005 and 2009 as the country’s top football honcho describes him spectacular failure.
He came into the EFF already having the reputation of a charlatan who is very adept at making money disappear. So from the very beginning, sponsors were leery of being associated with him.
Instead of building his image he did nothing to improve his reputation. In fact he worsened it by eliminating any EFF member who stood in his way.
The lowest point of the man’s presidency at that time was definitely the mismanagement of cash which was donated by FIFA for the support of areas affected by floods in the country’s regions of Diredawa and South Omo.
Upcoming elections postponements has been contributed to Ashebir greed to take the seat at all costs as the former boss is said to be the one manipulating electoral committee members to stall the process every now and then through bribery.
Apart from that Ashebir is believed to have colluded with corrupt officials at the Ministry of Sports and Youth to have him allowed to contest.
Rules by the Sports Ministry are clear that one candidate cannot be in two sports federations at a time but Asber is going to run for football federation presidency without resigning from as a chair of the Ethiopia Basketball Federation.
The scale and persistence of the allegations of, at best, gross mismanagement and, at worst, outright corruption would prompt a resignation letter from lesser men. But Ashebir is seemingly immovable.
His tenure so far at the helm of the basketball in the country has been rocked by one corruption scandal after another where one of its officials was recently sentenced to a three year jail term with Ashebir walking free, something that has football family in the country deeply questioning.
If social media users in Ethiopia had a say, if they had the mandate to elect the leaders, chances are that none of them could want to hear any mention of Ashebir who is also the current President of National Olympic committee.
A joke has been created on social forums with the popular one saying that “if there’s any vacancy for the president no matter which type Ashebir is there seeking power.”
Hundred years from now, those interested in the history of Ethiopia football will be asking themselves how on earth someone so grandly incompetent could be allowed to get away with such malfeasance and be allowed to run for football administration position.
With Ashebir factor, Ethiopia’s football remains at a crossroads of sorts and members of the general assembly have this crucial –almost impossible – responsibility of making an informed judgment that will see no negative consequences, of seeing things beyond personal interests and make the right decision that will help the development of Ethiopian football.
Disclaimer: The opinions of the writer does not reflect the opinions of zehabesha.com
By Festus Chuma