Watchdog group investigates ESFNA


A watchdog group has been formed to investigate corruption inside the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA). According to the group, which calls itself ‘ESFNA Watch’, board members of ESFNA are accused of underreporting earnings, exaggerating deductions and exemptions, and participating in questionable tax shelters. For details, click the groups web site, esfnawatch.com


29 comments on “Watchdog group investigates ESFNA

  1. Hagos Araya on

    I don’t think ESFNA is good at all. I know it might be a good thing for those who are willing to communicate and see their people and culture once in a year. However, in my opinion the organization is not doing enough effort to resolve the current Ethiopian crises compare with the major problems we have back in Ethiopia. I know that the organization tries to do a few efforts to demonstrate such social problems including health mainly HIV/AIDS. But, that is not still very close to the expectation as an Ethiopian organization in North America. Of course it’s mainly focus events are foot ball, cultural events including food , drink, music and some entertaining shows that are only restricted by the Ethiopian people in North America. However, the organization keeping seem fail to understand the major problems in the current Ethiopia including human rights disrespect, lack of democracy, lack of justice, spread of corruption that brings high inflation and other out put problems of the above which lead the county to high poverty, uncontrolled malnutrition, high unemployment rate, uncontrolled population and others.

    There fore, my point is we should accept and try to bring the best solutions for our country. We should not wait somebody to resolve these problems on behalf of us. As the north America Ethiopian organization, the organization should do a lot in organizing the Ethiopians to be able a part of the solutions. Just having a fancy time with a well living brothers and sisters of Ethiopian for a week long by gathering from different states doesn’t have to be the least we do. And we shouldn’t have to give our ears for those outsiders by sticking our leaps when we heard about Ethiopians disaster and calamities. Lets be the part of the solution and lets try to make the Ethiopian people live in Ethiopia to have a good time once in year as we do here with fancy event. Our people are dying with the unaffordable life to get a loft of bread while we spend thousands of dollars to enjoy our selves for a few days. In general to me the organizers of the ESFNA are a just a bunch of gangsters who are only working to fill up their bally and to strengthen their own individual economic budget in the name of the Ethiopian people. But, I can’t imagine how they dare fail to think about our people back home at least for a minute while they are running up and down to make their money. So, I don’t get surprised if they are engaged with corruption since they are gathered to fulfill their own interest. Shame on ESFNA organizers.

  2. Meseret on

    It is about time that IRS is involved.
    We will find out ESFNA’s Integrity.
    ESFNA’s Integrity has been questioned for long time.
    IF ESFNA is not guilty good for ESFNA if not good for the Ethiopian in Diaspora.
    The website is amazing.

  3. Halie on

    How does a society encourage law-abiding behavior?
    Most Ethiopian people in general, obey the USA law essentially because they perceive the process as fair and unbiased and in accord with their own values.
    We should be loyal to the USA and report those who do not obey the rule to legal authorities who have a considerable amount of power, which they can use to enforce the law.
    I do not have any questions IRS will find out a major tax fraud.
    ESFNA’s are dishonest people. We know for sure three of ex ESFNA’s
    Are under FBI investigations

  4. የሀገር ሰዉ on

    The ESFNA is the only avenue that brings Ethiopian together once a year alike any other organization and getting better.

    It seems many attempt has been made to destroy the federation by political motivated individual and groups including Woyane, for the simple reason because they do not want Ethiopians to come together.

    After many attempt to bribe, disseminate false information and accusations on individuals, and by replicate the organization by dividing Ethiopians along ethnicity, the anti Ethiopian elements are back at it with a different methods to destroy the organization.

    Watching the watcher: a close examination of the person involved, and his backers reviles he have a close association with TPLF government agents and their operatives in North America. The mission is to deprived Ethiopians a place to gather and exchange ideas and their views regarding what is happening in the home country.

    The target is not necessarily the federation but the gathering of Ethiopians as Ethiopians and the many events that come there to bring Ethiopian even closer.

    This is an elaborate plan cooked up to dismantle the federation and every Ethiopian should be concerned and bring the instigators to face justice and exposed them for defamation of character, false information, and politically motivated assault.

    The federation should take immediate action to bring the individuals responsible to court and expose them to who they are.

    I will write a support letter with fund to help the federation with its legal expenses to bring these criminals to justices.

    Ethiopians enemies are coming in different form and shape and we need to be vigilant to protect our country, institutions, and our people by all means we can.

    Long live to Ethiopia

    Down with her enemies who work directly or indirectly.

    Dear ER

    You have the responsibility to investigate and expose the individuals, their background, and their motivation to be impartial, before you collaborate to provide them a forum in their alleged accusation of the only organization that brings Ethiopian together and sustained for 25 years.

    Unless you report on the individuals who are involved in the accusation, their background and who is backing them in a reasonable time, we will assume you are collaborating with this unknown individuals with peculiar motives to damage the organization. We expect ER, as a media to report on either side or reviles you are part of this group and come clean with the public.

  5. the truth on

    It does not matter who report ESFNA to IRS.

    ESFNA is not guilty until proven.ESFNA ‘s nature of violation includes but it is up to IRS to investigate.

    1. organization refused to disclose or provide a copy of from 990.

    2. Organization involved in political campaign

    3. Board members income assets for personal gains

    You ESFNA’ supporters do not put this serious allegation

    The presumption of innocence — being innocent until proven guilty — is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern nations. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough proving evidence to convince IRS

    ESFNA Bringing Ethiopian Together but ESFNA does not have a right to violate the rules

  6. Daniel on

    This comment was posted at ESAI.

    IRS is investigating Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America for tax fraud.

    Visit: http://www.esfnawatch.com

    The ESFNA and several Ethiopian media will keep it as secret until the 25th anniversary is over so that ESFNA and the media people will get their profit sharing.

    Do not apply for the scholarship or try to get involved at the Tournament.

    ESFNA will be reformed.

    ESFNA has insurance?

    A DC player was injured during the last tournament. ESFNA told him to pay for his medical care since ESFNA does not have an insurance and he never got reimbursed.

    I am a player and I am surprised to see how much insurance expense is .

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  7. remove corrupts on

    what made us poor as a country is the culture of corruption. There is nothing like accountability in our culture. But you can’t just be corrupt and get away with it in the U.S. the investigation will send a shock wave accrose the officials and would be a lesson to non-profit Ethio-organizations to behave and serve the community rather than spoil the money for greed

  8. Money laundering on

    I would like to implore Sheikh Mohamed Al-Amoudi to use his good name for building great institutions and not spend his money on individuals who place their own interests ahead of those of the community.

    I read the recent ESFNA press release with great interest that mentioned the generous contribution of Sheikh Mohamed Al-Amoudi in the amount of $450.000 in 2002. This was not the first time the great Sheikh made such a contribution. I am personally aware of many other such contributions he has made including around $100,000 in 1994, and many more to individual teams in the Washington DC metropolitan area. It is also that he has pledged $200,000 to cover the expenses for 2005.

    ESFNA reported only $450,000 to IRS.

    This is Money laundering is the practice of engaging in financial transactions in order to conceal the identity, source, and/or destination of money, and is a main operation of the underground economy.

  9. Can ESFNA explain what MGMT Expense is on

    ESFNA does not have an office,the officeres are not paid.
    It is a one week money making business,

    Management General Expense flactuated from $0 to $106,732.00

    A. Management General
    Year Amount
    2006 $106,732.00
    2005 $59,864.00
    2004 $76,071.00
    2003 $12,593.00
    2002 $3,546.39
    2001 $3,909.00
    2000 $0.00
    1999 $0.00
    1998 $0.00
    1997 $0.00

    Total $262,715.39

  10. የሀገር ሰዉ on

    I can see a lot of government agents are in full gear to attack the federation; this is not the first or the last time. While transparency is necessary on all institution including the so called watchers who are hiding their identity for the obvious reason, why wouldn’t the watchers call for a public meeting and show us the evidence and stand by it.

    The way I see it, the leaders of the watchers have political motives or and where thrown out from the federation for braking the rule or trying to bribe the officers to take over the federation.

    The right to face the accusers are a reserved right of the free country we live in. If you want to accuse any one with out reviling yourself and the evidence, then the ruling party of TPLF has a job opening you should seek. Since there are a bunch of ignorant individuals who operate by the no rule game like back home, be careful, when the law comes raining on you for defamation character and clean you all you have and more.

  11. the insider on

    Thanks to time. It was a matter of time to see how ESFNA was the most corrupted office ever in history.Te be clear, I know alot the structural corruption from top to bottom but I was waiting to this time and now is the time to investigate the mischief behaviour, misguided, and miscalculated applied formula of the ESFNA board.Now is the time to look at how the ESFNA accounting system was applied according to the law and the purpose of this organization.

    Hope investigation will start from the hot areas such as expenses,overhead costs, and various incomes. The skeleton of the ESFNA accounting system seems to me that managemnet General Expense reachs sky high in the fiscal year of 2006.This is the one area to be focused with detail initially before any thing else then actual income versus expenses incurred year by year.

    I wish the best to ESFNA officials to be punished for their job mishandling, corruption, and discrimnation they have made by the good name of Ethiopia. Give me a break, why ESFNA put it self in danger in the first place? does any one has an answer for this.? God bless the ESFNA WATCHDOG GROUP.

  12. what kind of Insurance? on

    We know the players are not covered by ESFNA’s Insurance

    Insurance one year is o and one year $14,610.00

    Insurance Expenses
    Year Amount
    2006 $14,610.00
    2005 $0.00
    2004 $0.00
    2003 $9,350.00
    2002 $8,584.00
    2001 $0.00
    2000 $0.00
    1999 $0.00
    1998 $7,085.00
    1997 $6,188.00

    Total $45,817.00

  13. ESFNA does not have a central phone on

    Did you know we pay the executive committee cell phone?

    They do not even return our phone call; unless we are reserving a booth and want our check.

    Telephone Expenses
    Year Amount
    2006 $3,080.00
    2005 $0.00
    2004 $3,190.00
    2003 $0.00
    2002 $510.00
    2001 $180.00
    2000 $452.00
    1999 $2,621.00
    1998 $7,552.00
    1997 $0.00

    Total $17,585.00

  14. Inside edition on

    ESFNA’s are Woyanie ‘s for the 25th Tournament.
    The Federation needs Sheik Mohammed Alamoud to rescue to pay for the major expenses.
    The Federation does not have the budget to pay over a 1,000,000.00 expenses.
    ESFNA’s Vice president came back from Addis after he begged Abenet G. Meskel, a close partner of the Sheik.
    He told Abenet, that ESFNA’s had fired the board members who put this organization a political group and promise not to support the opponent party.
    Let us not blame Ethiopian Government for ESFNA not complying with IRS’

  15. Paranoid on

    This is the First time IRS is investigating ESFNA
    The last 25 years we have two type of Ethiopian who criticized the Federation.

    1. Those who gossiped about ESFNA.
    2. Those who write about ESFNA in different website at their Leisure time.

    Now we action oriented Ethiopian who are educated and know the systemsLike ESFNA WATCH.

    I am very close with ESFNA board members and I never seen them. So paranoid

  16. Illegal Business on

    IRS 501 C charities cannot break the Laws

    ESFNA’s is involved in illegal business of bringing Ethiopian through stolen DV and False Oromo Refugees. The DV is sold over $12,000 and the false refugees is sold $4,000.00

    If you all recall, Town Hall Meeting was held specifically to address immigration issues in Los Angles CA. The main organizer was ESFNA’s public relations officer, Ato Zecharias

    This town house is to advertize the illegal business and recruited desperate family members to bring their family.

    This business includes the Ethiopian journalists in the USA, Catholic Church, and American Embassy in Ethiopia staff members, Government worker in Ethiopia who is making money by the sale of DV

    This so sad that. The people who won the DV are in Ethiopia and some one under that name is in the USA, because of ESFNA’s board members illegal business.

    The Oromo refugees are in Kenney suffering and the false refugees are in the USA.

    This is a violation of their tax exempt status for such “charities” to plan and engage in illegal activities

  17. OBAMA Nomination on

    Who will expect America will nominate a Black person to be the first president.

    There is time for everything.

    The time come for ESFNA to show that It is
    clean organization.

    I am suprised why ESFNA is ignoring the issues.

    Why not give a press release.

  18. complying with laws on

    The watchgroup is doing a big favor for the Ethiopian in Diaspora if there has been a violation of income Tax law.

    We Ethiopian need it to insure that the ESFNA is complying with laws and to allow IRS to figure and collect the right amount of tax, if board members benefitted personally.

    The watchgroup is doing a big favor for ESFNA, if the allegation was not prove by IRS.

    Derge Regime lasted over 17 years; it doesn’t mean ESFNA is good because it lasted for 25 years.

    Yes it brings Ethiopian together for the last 25 years, but on one challenged ESFNA.

  19. ESFNA face the public on

    Why can ESFNA executive committee give Press Releases?

    MISINFORMATION ALERT: FALSE ALLEGATIONS REGARDING TAX FRUADE

    Most of the Ethiopian media and community leaders know about this case, but it is a conflict of interest to let most Ethiopian know about the tax fraud until the 25 tournament is over.

    It is all about profit sharing.

    Mr Getachew, when IRS convicted ESFNA board members you will be a hero.

    Why are people defensive?

    If ESFNA is not guilty, it shows the integrity of the organization.

  20. Recommendations/IRS on

    Esfna – Needs to Improve Its Business Ethics.

    (From Addis Tribune (Ethiopia) – AAGM)

    Byline: Tsegaye Yohannes

    The American Dream becomes for many an emblem of hope while the reality is often different largely through exposure of loneliness and frustration. Another aspect of the immigrant experience is the loss of family ties. Social institutions such as churches, mosques, community organizations, and associations are expected to play a greater role in easing the problems of its members. For the Ethiopian Diaspora, the Ethiopian Sports Federation of North America (Esfna) has done its fair share in providing assistance to the community for the past twenty years. Furthermore, the kids’ show – as part of children’s production devised and performed by organizing committee – has produced significant change to kids’ behavior and their cultural awareness. The annual kids’ show has brought hundreds of primary school children to the doors of Esfna. Parents would enjoy seeing the fruits of their children and we thank Esfna for making this event possible.

    Esfna was founded in 1984 with only four teams, and today it has expanded to twenty-five teams from twenty-two North American cities. Esfna was and still is the only viable means for converging with Ethiopians in large numbers. The tournament and its events have become an important destination for many Ethiopians who eagerly look forward to the July 4th week as a time away from work and a vacation in style with Ethiopians and the friends of Ethiopia. High school reunions, family reunions and many types of fundraising events are occurring around and behind the scenes at the Esfna tournament.

    Besides the soccer activity and entertainment extravaganza, the tournament has become a central location for those who had wanted to be seen and heard by Ethiopians. Political and social organizations have a huge opportunity to attract Ethiopians during these tournaments.

    In the seven or eight days of the tournament, a large number of Ethiopians are available as a captive audience to any organization that will try to promote their cause fro the benefit of the Ethiopian community. The Ethiopian musicians and their promoters seem to be champions in directing the crowd to their shows and introducing their newly released CDs. However, as you read further, you will be upset when you hear of the nasty rift which occurs between Esfna officials, musicians, and the promoters every year.

    Esfna should be given the proper credit for bringing Ethiopians together year after year for 20 years. “Kudos” to them for their dedication and commitment. We should all salute both the founding members and the Esfna leadership for the hard work and commitment they exhibited over the past twenty years. They have by far done a remarkable job. On the other hand, there seems to be a great need for improvement in the culture, directing and the way Esfna does business with the community.

    The focus of this paper will cover only one area where I have fully participated as a business entity and dealt directly with Esfna on more than three occasions, namely the tournament events held in Dallas, Washington, D.C. and in Houston, Texas, in the years 1999, 2002, and 2003, respectively. Inside the stadium, in the “Vendor Area” (as denoted by the Esfna), you will find the Ethiopian entrepreneurs, such as me, trying their best to introduce their products and services to the community. Esfna as 510 (C) (3) organizations should be non-political and non-profit but contrary to non-profit agency, the vendors are year after year, neglected, mistreated, manipulated, and their lifelong savings are ripped off by profit driven Esfna business policy. The motive to accumulate wealth on the back of vendors and the public is paramount for Esfna. The so-called financial statement is usually vague often unexplained, in detail to the public.

    The host city for the next years’ Esfna tournament is announced during the closing ceremony of the tournament in July. As the vendor selection process precedes, the Esfna management seems very reasonable and fair, but in reality you will experience the same system or equivalent to the 18th century Ethiopian land tenure system. Obtaining any information from Esfna is like threading a camel through a needle hole. The Esfna web site is abandoned for months; therefore, it is never up-to-date with timely information. A simple response to an email, letter, or a phone call is next to impossible or non-existent for the Esfna Business Manager.

    Six or seven months later, the application forms become available to vendor applications, but you will need to know an Esfna insider to obtain the form. Some vendors know how, when and where to apply. An application fee of $25.00 must be submitted in the form of a cashiers check for each application, even though there is sufficient time to allow clearance of personal checks, which are not valid for Esfna. This can lead an applicant to believe Esfna does not trust anyone. All applications must be submitted on or before April 15, after which no further application can be accepted.

    One usually hears through the grapevine about the intent to withhold the application forms in order to distribute to a preferred group of people. The Esfna Business Manager swears that the selection process is fair, unbiased and gives equal chance to everyone. He claims all applicant names with be tossed in a pot for drawing and winners will be randomly picked. Contrary to what is preached by the Esfna Business Manager, our applicant experience was an eye opening and full of surprises.

    We repeatedly saw many people operating concession stands who did not apply during the allotted time frame. Also, we witnessed many individuals who had never paid the $25.00 application fee, nor have their name thrown in the drawing pot or participate in the lottery, become the proud owners of a concession stand. The most amazing part of this whole experience came during the tournament, when the Esfna Business Manager is aggressively selling every inch of the vendor area to individuals or organizations. For $1,600.00, you received a ten by ten foot tent with electric power; whereas, a five by ten foot tent with electricity would cost you $600.00. additionally, the $1600.00 vendor fee does not come with water, table or chair, only a small tent.

    The more space Esfna sold the more money it generated. It did not matter how many days were left to the end of the tournament, the Business Manager continued to sale concession stands and collected cash instead of the required Money Order or Cashers Check. A receipt for this cash was never issued nor was a record made of who made the cash payment. This leads one to wonder about the legality of Esfna financial records.

    The other agonizing moments came when we showed up to work to sell our products. There was a “Gestapo like” person at the door yelling and screaming at us for not having our vendor ID. The fact is we had provided our picture two months prior to the Business Manager, expecting to receive it before the tournament. If you were one of the lucky ones, you would receive an ID with your name misspelled or even your picture with someone else’s name on it. This was the best possible situation, so then we would be free to get into the vendor area. The majority of the vendors would be given excuses such as, “your picture is missing, please get another one”, or “we are too busy to deal with it now” and “you have to wait until we can get to it”, or “your ID is with so and so”, and on and on. Meanwhile, you are subjected to the mistreatment at the gate until you could somehow sort out the multitude of problems.

    Esfna has a contractual agreement they present to you, and there is never enough time to read, review, or understand. Interestingly, as each day proceeds, the business manager will redefine the contract as the sees fit, usually to his own advantage. Therefore, contractual agreements really mean nothing to Esfna management. For instance, if you brought your products to the vendor area by 2:00 p.m. today for a drive through, you would never be guaranteed you could come at the same time or even earlier the next day. This restriction would force the vendors to a brutal, labor-intensive exercise. Also, the vendor would lose their selling time based on rules changed on a daily basis.

    What has been so exciting and refreshing is that Esfna does not take responsibility for anything, yet they are very quick to collect money for services they do not stand behind. A good example would be the

    electric power provided to the vendors by Esfna. Many times during the tournament, the number of concession stands would out-number the available power supply, which results in continuous power failures. We witnessed many individuals’ products go bad due to power outages.

    The tournament schedule is changing continuously everyday. When you think you will have customers and are making sales, the lights would go off and we were forced by the police officers to close our business.

    Also, did I mention the continuous harassment by the Health Inspectors, who came twice or three times a day to your stand. Although I believe that the overwhelming majority were genuinely serving Esfna, the board must work together to grow the club by making the correct decision. This includes speaking with a collective voice on important issues affecting Esfna particularly issues related to the vendors and other resources who made every event possible by generating significant fund for Esfna event.

    I could go on and on about the hardships vendors have faced with Esfna, but I believe that it is time that Esfna should focus on improving its bad image and effectively change its backward business practice before it is too late.

    My recommendations include:

    Improved communication with the community. Listening is something that most of us do every day, so it would be reasonable to assume that we’re all pretty good listeners, right? But few of us actually are. Exercise honest business ethics and practices. Unethical conduct or fraud in Esfna cannot and will not be tolerated.

    Hire professionals to perform the Business Manager duty. He or she could be held accountable for his/her actions. It is impossible to hold a volunteer individual responsible.

    Treat vendors with respect and listen to their concerns.

    Have a plan of action and stick to it. The best advice I can give to Esfna is to use every source possible, but to do your own homework. Have confidence in your ability to execute the business plan that best suit your organizational goals.

    Do not focus only how to make money. Invest in tomorrow because there are many ways to participate and even the smallest gift will make a difference when it is combined with others.

    Try to earn the respect and trust of the community.

    Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media. (allafrica.com)

  21. IRS concerns ignored on

    In Defense of ESFNA: A Reply to Tsegaye Yohannes and Other Concerned Ethiopians

    By: ESFNA Executive Committee

    Purpose of this Piece: In recent weeks there have been many opinions and concerns posted over the Internet in different websites regarding Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America. In general, the Executive Committee (EC) and Board of Directors of the Federation (Board) are delighted when they see a plethora of opinions, debates, concerns and advices are exchanged via any medium. Throughout its 20 years, ESFNA has climbed many obstacles and always listened and tried to make corrective measures based on the feedback it gathers from members of the Federation and the public. Accordingly, although ESFNA believes in setting some records straight, has always welcomed constructive feedback. And, primarily, ESFNA views the recent opinions and concerns posted on many websites as constructive feedback. However, ESFNA would like readers to know that the Federation doesn’t have any information that Ato Tsegaye Yohannes has ever “participated as a business entity and dealt with Esfna …in 1999, 2002 and 2003.” Nonetheless, we believe the issues the writer has brought to the public needed a formal reply since they are important issues. Hence, the EC decided to write this piece.

    ESFNA from 1984 to 2003: In the first five paragraphs of his piece, Ato Tsegaye Yohannes has enumerated the immeasurable progress and contributions ESFNA has made since its inception in 1984. The progress was accomplished through the selfless contributions of players, Board of Directors, Executive officers, volunteers in sub-committees and the throngs of fans and Ethiopians who have come to celebrate the progress of this truly Ethiopian organization.

    Although it started with four teams, today ESFNA has 25 teams; from a tournament budget of a couple of thousands, today, ESFNA spends more than $250,000.00 in order to welcome Ethiopians to a single tournament. In 1984, in the height of the then Ethiopian famine, ESFNA had nothing to offer to Ethiopians; in 2000, the Federation has donated more than $10,000.00 and in 2003, the Federation was able to donate $100,000.00 to assist Ethiopians and our commitment will continue. Due to ESFNA and the yearly tournaments, Ethiopians in North America are getting the respect and visibility they deserve from city mayors and officials. Hence, the federation is not only an entity established for its own good but for the good of Ethiopians.

    ****

    Direct Response to Major Concerns from Ato Tsegaye Yohannes’ Article:

    Ato Tsegaye Yohannes wrote on Paragraph Six: “Esfna as 501(C) (3) organizations should be non-political and non-profit but contrary to non-profit agency, the vendors and year after year, neglected, mistreated, manipulated, and their lifelong savings are ripped off by profit driven Esfna business policy. The motive to accumulate wealth on the back of vendors and public is paramount for Esfna.”

    ESFNA: It is true ESFNA is a non-profit and non-political organization. However, similar to hundreds of non-profit organizations across the United States, ESFNA has the legal permit to engage in activities in order to bring revenues for its non-profit, non-political goals and objectives. ESFNA has government-approved bylaws and submits a yearly financial record to the IRS. In the last 20 years, ESFNA has never failed to comply with the laws of the land. Every year in January, the Board of Directors (the official representatives of the 25 ESFNA teams and the more than 600 players) receive financial reports from the Executive Committee to take back to their respective cities (to share it with players, supporters and the public). In addition, the financial statements are posted on our websites. Often, the January ESFNA meetings are dominated by questions and queries from Board members on each budget expense and income line items. As the primary stakeholders, there is no “vagueness” they would allow to pass without explanation or consequences. ESFNA is willing to answer any questions to anyone concerning its finances.

    It is essential for the public to know that ESFNA has neither a “profit driven” policy nor a “motive to accumulate wealth”. It is a major exaggeration to label ESFNA as an organization that neglects, mistreats, manipulates vendors to a point that they lose their “lifelong savings”. Contrary to popular belief, ESFNA doesn’t have wealth worth mentioning. It’s a Federation, despite its desire, that doesn’t have much to offer to its players or member teams. And, when we had some funds, even to the detriment of Houston 2003, we gave one-third of the Federation’s asset to alleviate what was considered to be the largest humanitarian crisis in Ethiopian history. It’s too unfair to accuse or paint ESFNA as a profit driven machine.

    Concerning Vendor Application, Forms, Method of Payment and more: Ato Tsegaye says that it is very difficult to find information from ESFNA neither through its website, via e-mail, letter or phone call from the Business Manager. He also states that ESFNA doesn’t trust anyone because it requires “cahiers check” for its application fee….caters to ”preferred group of people”.

    ESFNA: First and foremost ESFNA admits that it doesn’t have the most functional website. However, corrective measures are being taken. However, despite that fact, ESFNA’s vendor policy and vendor application forms are available in our website throughout the year. In addition, we also make the forms available through the local organizing committee once the Board approves the host sites in its January meeting. Moreover, the Business Manager is responsible for sending Dry Good Vendor applications to vendors who have worked with ESFNA in prior years. It is our record that the Business Manager has sent applications to vendors as far as Turkey and Ethiopia. It’s also true that the only EC member whose telephone number available in our website is that of our Business Manager and contacting him is only a phone call away. Yet, is ESFNA saying the system it has in place at the moment is impeccable, irreproachable and beyond faults? No! It is actually true that some letters, e-mails, phone calls and attempts to reach ESFNA were never properly handled. ESFNA regrets and apologizes for these occurrences. Yet, these are exceptions, not rules of ESFNA’s business ethics.

    It is important to communicate with the public the following policy in order to make things clearer:

    ESFNA has four different categories for entities that occupy spaces in the tournament stadium:

    1. Food Vendors: Food vending is the exclusive right of the host city residents and ESFNA doesn’t accept food-vending applications outside of the host city. Two of the main reasons for this policy are local and state health permit compliance and incentive to the local business establishments. Food vending application has a deadline and the Business Manager gives orientation to vendors prior to the official drawing lots.

    2. Dry Good Vendors: Application has no deadline and ESFNA accept bids on first-come, first-serve bases. If ESFNA has open vending slots, vendors are welcome at any time even during the tournament week. There are no drawing lots for dry good vending.

    3. Banner Vendors, Sponsors (or ESFNA’s preferred customers): Just like other businesses have “preferred customers” ESFNA also has its own. These customers are sponsors, contributors and partners with ESNFA and do get preferred treatment. For instance, Ethiopian Airlines, Western Union, AYAT Construction, Ethio-Sounds and host soccer team(s) are our preferred customers. These customers travel with us no matter where our tournament is hosted. For these customers, we do give prime locations and accommodations. As far as ESFNA is concerned this is simply good customer service and accommodation. Still, ESFNA welcomes entities who would like to partner with us in such capacity.

    4. Non-Profit, Non-Political Organizations: Prior to 2001, ESFNA had a limited number of slots for non profits (i.e. one slot each for Orthodox Christians, Protestants and Muslims) However, Since 2001, ESFNA has changed its policy and started accommodating as much non-profit entities as possible as long as space in the tournament stadium permits. Thus, in the past two tournaments, the number of non-profits advocating for Ethiopian causes were many. Applications are accepted on first-come, first-serve bases. These vendors pay very minimal fees for tent and power but are welcome to our events at no additional cost.

    Accordingly, it is essential for the public to know that it is not abnormal if “many individuals who had never paid the $25.00 application fee, nor have their name thrown in the drawing pot or participate in the lottery, become the proud owners of a concession stand”; because, often times, these are individuals in category 2,3 or 4 who will not be in the drawing or lottery. It is also true that ESFNA always communicates with vendors during “vendors orientation” about these exceptions.

    However, there are abnormal issues that also baffle ESFNA: the case of official vendors sharing their concession stands with unofficial vendors. Although ESFNA discourages such practices, it’s often impossible to control on site. However, ESFNA will consult legal advisors on what actions to take in such anomalies.

    The public needs to know that ESFNA EC, the body that is responsible for organizing the tournament consists 7 members. These members live in different cities if not states. These are volunteers and have tremendous responsibility of making sure a tournament is successful in a city they most likely don’t live in. Hence, after many trials and errors, it was decided that ESFNA only accept payment in the form of cashiers checks or money orders. This is an accepted form of business, as most of you clearly know. Unlike the insidious suggestion by Ato Tsegay Yohannes, the method is not an issue of trust or distrust. The reason ESFNA chose to receive payments only in money order or cashers check was for proper and efficient way of handling our account. ESFNA implement this policy not only on our vendors but also on its member teams (if they have to reimburse the Federation). For instance, we all know that out of state checks are put on hold by banks for seven to ten business days; in return such delay could keep vendors and the Federation on hold until the check clears. At times, neither vendors nor ESFNA has ample time to see checks clear by banks.

    Tents, Power, Collecting Money and more: One of the other major concerns of Ato Tsegaye are the issues of tent sizes and other items that he considers should come with the tents such as electric power; in addition, the writer has misgivings about the “Business Manager” collecting cash and more.

    ESFNA: It is important for individuals and the public to know that ESFNA is not deaf or blind to the needs of vendors. We also believe most of the issues surrounding tent, power and collecting money from vendors have ceased to be major problems in the past two years due to a policy change by the Federation. However, Ato Tsegaye’s article gives the impression that problems that existed in 1999 do also exist in 2003. However, readers need to know that most of the problems that existed prior to and in 1999 have been tackled in the last three years. Yet, ESFNA is not satisfied and will do more to rectify old and new challenges.

    Until 2001, tent and generator rentals were left for the local organizing committee and host soccer team. The Federation simply charged the individual vendors for space rental and the local organizing committee/soccer team helped secure the tents and power generators. Accordingly, vendors were required to make two payments: one to the Federation for space and another to the locals for tent and power. During and after the 2001 tournament, the Federation received enormous complaints from vendors. It was also the Federation’s experience from past tournaments that the problem has grieved many and many vendors’ food and items were ruined due to lack of electrical power (i.e. in Dallas 1999).

    Since 2002 ESFNA streamlined the process; one payment for everything! Therefore, it’s important to note that there was never a power failure, damaged food or similar concerns in both Washington 2002 & Houston 2003. Just for the record, in 2002 a stock of ice cream melted overnight because the machine was turned off by accident. In Houston, the Federation paid $3.00/gallon for diesel power generators, distributors, and dividers for 24 hours a day for 8 days. There was enough power to everyone. In Houston 2003, the Federation provided chairs, tables, power lights/bulbs and ample water supply. In both 2002 & 2003, ESFNA provided 24 hours a day security to vendors. Consequently, in Washington D.C. and Houston, there was no need to collect money from vendors.

    It is essential to know that the Federation has an Internal and External Auditor, a Finance Committee that works with the EC but independent enough to report to the Board (the main legislative organ of ESFNA) on any inconsistencies. Thus, if there is a Dry Good Vendor concession spot sale during the week of the tournament, it’s the duty of the Business Manager to gather the Internal Auditor and Financial Committee Chair and finalize the transaction with the vendor. At times, due to time and circumstances, ESFNA does accept cash payments in the presence of the officials identified above. Hence, selling Dry Good concession stand even during the tournament is within ESFNA’s right. Just for the record, since most vendors are informed the number of Food and Dry Good spaces available for sale by ESFNA during the orientation, to make the decision whether to sell available concession stand during tournament week is solely up to the Federation.

    ID & Health Inspection:

    ESFNA: Ato Tsegaye clearly and rightfully communicated with us the problems surrounding ID. However, Ato Tsegaye lacks the information to fully understand the issues surrounding health inspection. However, it’s important for ESFNA to communicate with the public the issues from ESFNA’s standpoint and the corrective measures already implemented in Houston 2003.

    Prior to Houston 2003, ESFNA factually made ID with “misspelled” names, “pictures with someone else’s names” and more. Other times, ID were not ready for vendors until days after we started the tournament. In this case, although ESFNA takes responsibility for the errors it made, the responsibility must also be shared with vendors. Often times, it’s incredibly difficult to make out the correct spellings of names on the back of the pictures ESFNA requires from vendors (two different pictures for Food Vendors & one from Dry Good Vendors). At times, vendors are eager to send us a $1,500.00 payment but procrastinate on sending us pictures for ID. Sometimes, the person who has won the lottery sells his/her right to someone else and the “new” vendor, unaware of our policies or who never attended the mandatory orientations comes dashing with pictures after the tournament started. Also, for some vendors, passport size pictures somehow gets confused with 5×7 or larger. Therefore, similar circumstances lead us to make unintended errors. Other than that, ESFNA doesn’t knowingly or negligently “misspell” or “switch” pictures of vendors. We try as much as possible to get the ID ready on time and correctly.

    Here is one corrective measure we have taken in Houston that alleviated most of our problems. During the orientation in April 2003, the Business Manager took pictures of vendors who have won the lottery draw right at the spot using digital camera. Hence, he didn’t wait until they sent him their pictures; he simply printed it from the digital camera. ESFNA intends to improve in the future.

    Health Inspection is a very important public requirement the Federation intends to comply with and implement fully. The requirement differs from state to state and from local government to local government. For instance, in Atlanta 1998 where Center for Disease Control (CDC) reigns, the Federation was asked to required all food vendors to take a-day-long orientation on health compliance a month before the tournament (do you see why we have deadlines for Food Vendors and only allow locals to participate?). In addition, the local Health Inspectors came and opened an office next to the food vendors during the tournament. Some vendors were closed because they didn’t participate in the required one-day health orientation. It was inhibitive to both ESFNA and the vendors and we had to solicit city officials to close the health office.

    In Washington D.C. (the stadium was in Maryland) the health requirement pass was supposed to have been renewed every three days. Maryland law didn’t allow our types of vending a permit longer than three days and our tournament obliviously lasts for seven days. Therefore, the Inspectors had to come twice and ESFNA had to comply with many measures in order to keep the vendors open for business. Thus, it’s essential for the vendors and the general public to understand a glimpse of what ESFNA has had to go through in order to make one tournament possible and gather Ethiopians across the world—safely and legally. In this aspect ESFNA should simply be supported.

    Change in the Games Schedule: Ato Tsegaye states, “the tournament schedule is changing continuously everyday. When you think you will have customers and are making sales, the lights would go off and we were forced by the police officers to close our business.”

    ESFNA: In the history of ESFNA, there are only two incidents of schedule changes that caused vendors to closed down early while making sales; both times it was in Washington D.C. area tournaments. The first was in 1994, two days before the end of the tournament when the last game was abandoned due to rain (an act of God). Second was in 2002 when the second semi-final game was abandoned and police forced the stadium closed. Other than that, game schedule changes could never hurt vendors since most often game schedules gets pushed further than the closing hours. Accordingly, the extension of closing hours could only mean more time for vendors to sell beyond closing hours. Most often, when ESFNA game schedules go beyond the contractual agreement with police, security and stadium officials, the Federation pays more money for the extra hours. However, ESFNA has never passed the costs to vendors.

    ESFNA officials and police and security officers always inform vendors by physically going door to door, an hour or so before the vending area to be closed, informing vendors to close at the specified time. However, the Federation understands that there are always last minute shoppers (especially, at the last day) and diners after the last games that would like to be served. But, there needs to be an understanding that in order for proper resumption of activities on the following day, the Federation has to live up to its contractual agreements with all parties involved.

    Here, it’s timely to mention to readers that ESFNA hosts no less than 40 games in the weeklong tournament. The ESFNA volunteer officials have duties long after the games are over and the stadium closed. Often times, they have to go to hotels and other places to conclude other issues and circumstances due to happen in every city and in every tournament. For instance, if we don’t close down the stadium prior to 8pm on the last day of the tournament, we won’t be able to start the closing night gala on time—which in return brings grief (rightfully) from people who would like to have a good time until the following year. Accordingly, we insist on closing down the stadium at scheduled hours since most activities require us to do so.

    On Ato Tsegaye’s Seven Recommendations:

    1. Improve communication: ESFNA is committed to communicating with the public. Long before Houston 2003, we have opened ESFNA radio in the Washington D.C. area. In the past three years, we have had many town hall meetings led by our former president. In recent months, we have been on many newspapers and local radios in both coasts. At the end of September 2003, we were in Seattle and in the first weekend of October, we were in San Jose and hosted very successful and informative town hall meetings. Since January 2003, e-mail concerns sent to us have been replied to within three days. It’s our commitment to continue to communicate with the community.

    2. Exercise honest business ethics: ESFNA has always attempted to engage in proper business practices. However, for many reasons, its honest efforts have never been glaringly apparent to some individuals. Learning from the contractual misfortune in Washington D.C., we have a new vendors contract which participants sign long before the start of the tournament.

    3. Hire professionals to perform the Business Manager’s duty: Hiring professionals to help ESFNA in many aspects of its business are a topic of discussion within and outside the Federation. Not only the Business Manager’s but also other offices could be well served if professionals run them. However, this requires understanding the uniqueness of the Ethiopian soccer tournament, its multifaceted challenges and more. It also touches up on the Federation’s capacity to hire paid professionals. However, its something the Board will need to look into in the near future.

    4. Treat vendors with respect: ESFNA starts from the premise of this standpoint and many hours are spent every year to address the concerns of vendors. Actually, although we decided to address them altogether, some of the concerns Ato Tsegay have enumerated in his article pertaining to 1999 and 2002 have already been addressed to the satisfaction of the majority of vendors in Houston. And the Federation has no intention of going back.

    5. Have a plan of action and stick to it: Thank you for your advice.

    6. Do not focus only how to make money: We believe ESFNA is exemplary when it comes to making a difference in the lives of Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Even the revenue ESFNA collects every year is intended for the betterment of serving the member teams and all Ethiopians. We are dedicated to do better than we did before.

    7. Try to earn the respect and trust of the community: The Federation understands Ethiopians expect it to do better and do good things. The Executive Committee, Board or Directors and sub-committees are committed to Ethiopians and our deep-rooted cultures. And, as long as we strive to these ideals the public respects and trusts the Federation.

    Finally, ESFNA would like to thank Ato Tsegaye for his article. The Federation is also open to constructive criticism and advices; new ideas are welcome. Send us a proposal. Write us e-mail at (info@esfna.org). We intend to make the Federation better

  22. Accountablity on

    ESFNA ignores all the warnings signs to control any potential fraud. The Business manger, the president, The P/R, The Auditor and the treasurer had made a lot of money.

    They will be in jail and pay all the taxes.

  23. let start from the Business Manager on

    Esfna Business Manager Haile selected the vendors in advance. He will ask two kind of bribery. You give him $300 to $400 or % of profit sharing.

    He claims all applicant names with be tossed in a pot for drawing and winners will be randomly picked.

    I am an insider I have seen people who did not apply or their names were not throwing the drawing pot or participate in the lottery had a booth.

    He made a lot of many under the table.

  24. From the watchers on

    Comment #20 by Tsegaye Yohannes was already posted on the Addistribune.com site on September 26, 2003. At the same time, ESFNA also responded to this article (Comment # 21). Ridiculously, the exact copy of this article by Tsegaye and the exacty copy of response by ESFNA is posted here again as if they were new articles. Please stop lying to the Ethiopian diaspora by posting a five year old articles as if they were new responses to the new allegation.
    The new allegation says:
    Did ESFNA really spend almost $800,000 US dollars to organize the 2006 Los Angeles event?
    Did ESFNA really spend almost $600,000 US dollars to organize the 2005 Atlanta event?
    Did ESFNA really make only $200,000 US dollars from its 2003 Houston, TX event?
    Despite the United States Internal Revenue Code, despite several requests, why did ESFNA officils refused to release ESFNA’s annual returns to the public?
    If ESFNA does not have anything to hide from the public, Why doesn’t ESFNA answer these questions directly?

  25. IT IS A CRIME on

    IT IS A CRIME TO INTENTIONALLY OR KNOWINGLY TO FILA A FRAUDULENT TAX RETURN

  26. Whistleblowers on

    “To see a wrong and not to expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.”

    Dr. John Raymond Baker

  27. Do you know who is running the show on

    am realy sorry all of you have just wake up and found out that every thing ESFNA is about money. Do you realy know who is running the show? Do you have any idea who these the so called board members are? Have any one of you tried to attende one of their meeting in October of each year and ask critical questions about Ethiopia and its people and culture? these are some of the question I will forward to some of you who think these groups are trying hard to make a yearly event for ethiopians to get together. there are a lot going on in every state about these abuses but no one of you have said any thing sighting these is the only orgainozation that will bing as together every year. The organization is a 501 C 3 but the participating teams are profit making execpt some teams that are legts.

    I have a lot of information. but this is only the only the tip of the iceburg what the so called team leaders are doing in every state. I am not talking about those teams that are legitmate. There are so called board members who claim that they own the team and can not be changed by the board of the team of the club.

  28. who is Rico on

    Rico has plans of opening a youth soccer academy here in Ethiopia and wants

    Kassahun heads to Texas
    Kassahun Teka, former National team and St George winger, was announced as the guest of honor for the annual ESFNA football tournament to be held in Dallas, Texas.
    Kassahun, probably one of the very few coaches who have coached every level of football in Ethiopia, received his instructor’s certificate following in the footsteps of legendary Ethiopian player Mengistu Worku. During his playing years, Kassahun was known for his lethal left shot and his ability to get past defenders
    Though he quit coaching about five years ago due to health problems, he still serves soccer as the Chairperson of the National Technical Committee of the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF).
    Many close to the EFF believe that his invitation was long overdue, considering his service to the game, both a player and as a coach. “Many with thinner resumes than Kassahun have been to the USA as guests of honor. I suspect the selection used to be more favoritism than merit,” remarked a former national team player.
    “Kassahun was not on good terms with ESFNA officials until recently when former electric player Rico Giordano returned home after a long stay in USA. I believe that Rico rallied for Kassahun’s invitation because he had his own agenda. Rico has plans of opening a youth soccer academy here in Ethiopia and wants Kassahun to manage it. This is irregular and I am very disappointed about it,” said another soccer veteran and former Insurance player now living in the US.
    Whatever the procedure, Kassahun will be going to the US to be part of an occasion seen as almost a pilgrimage by Ethiopians. This an occasion where Ethiopians come from all over the US and gather to celebrate what is much more than just a soccer event.
    Mengestu Worku was the first guest of honor when the tournament was launched 20 years ago.
    Famous Ethiopian artist, Maitre Laureate Afework Tekle will accompany Kassahun to Dallas, Texas. The occasion is scheduled to take place a week after the American’s celebrate July 4th, American independence day.

  29. knows them all on

    I have been associated with ESFNA since 1992

    1. ESFNA’s past business practices have been, Denial.
    2. Greed than Generosity
    3. ESFNA had more than five presidents in 25 years. All transitions were peaceful and no schisms because it is within friends. The major qualification is the trust you garner from fellow Board members in your tenure as one of them(deniable greedy, bring new business idea, we even can sale kidney, do not trust anyone outside the ESFNA ..
    4. ESFNA will sell anything even Ethiopians kidneys, has been and will we engage in dubious business practices. Income: Stadium Entrance Fee, Vendors Fee and Closing Night Concert are the one IRS partially knows.
    5. Drug substance uses in hotel and stadium is a big profit too.

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