The smell of corruption envelops ESFNA

By Elias Kifle

The recent lawless action of Ethiopian Sports Federation North America’s (ESFNA) executive committee in reversing a decision by the board to invite Birtukan Mideksa as a guest of honor has drawn the attention of a number of Ethiopian groups and concerned Ethiopians who have started to take a closer look at the 25-year-old organization. Ethiopian Review, on its part, has launched an investigation into ESFNA’s activities. Our investigation so far has uncovered the following. (We have also contacted the FBI with a request for investigation. Click here to read.)

1. The ESFNA 9-member executive committee is simply in the service of billionaire businessman Ato Al Amoudi, not the Ethiopian community in North America. ESFNA’s top decision-making body, the 27-member board that represents the soccer teams in the U.S. and Canada, has been stripped of its authority by Al Amoudi’s top aid Abnet Gebremeskel through bribes to some of its members and intimidation by a gang of thugs led by Ayaya Arega, Sebsebe Assefa and Demis Lema (aka Arawit).

Al Amoudi (center) wearing a t-shirt with Woyanne logo; top aid Abnet Gebremeskel (left)

2. Those executive committee (EC) members who are subservient to Abnet are given wads of cash, free plane ticket to fly to Ethiopia and stay at Sheraton Hotel for free up to 2 months per year. Those who try to carry out their responsibilities as board members are physically threatened by Ayaya and his thugs. The chairman, Mekonnen Demisiew, is the Girma Woldegirogis of ESFNA. For example, when he chairs meetings, Ayaya or one of the thugs simply snatch away the microphone from him and order him what to say or not to say.

3. Attendance has been declining drastically at the ESFNA annual events during the past 5 years. July 2010 was the worst yet. That seems to be fine with Al Amoudi and his Woyanne junta as long as Ethiopians who oppose the ruling party do not control this potentially powerful organization that can bring together tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds.

Ayaya Arega

Ayaya Arega

4. ESFNA is currently facing a lawsuit that was filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court by its former auditor Assfaw Teferi.

5. ESFNA has not been audited by an independent auditor for over 20 years. A few years ago, when some ESFNA members led by the late Dr WM Akalou tried to clean up house, they had discovered that at least $40,000 was missing in one incident alone. The treasurer, who is part of the Ayaya gang, admitted that he took the money and was forced to resign. But soon after that, the stealing continued. It is not unusual for sacks of money to disappear following soccer matches and music concerts.


6. Al Amoudi gave over $700,000 to the ESFNA so far, but it is not clear how the money was used.

7. Ayaya and Arawit have escaped from  Ethiopia after allegedly orchestrating the savage beating and attempted murder of The Reporter editor-in-chief Amare Aregawi. They attempted to kill Amare after The Reporter begun publishing investigative reports about how Al Amoudi is manipulating the Ethiopian banking system. One of the suspects in the attempted murder is Arawit, who is employed by Abnet through Ayaya. Currently, Arawit is living inside a $3,000-per-month luxury apartment on Massachusetts Ave., Washington DC. All his living expenses are being paid for by Abnet, on top of hefty allowance.

8. While objecting to naming Birtukan Mideksa as a guest of honor, the Ayaya gang has forced ESFNA to name Al Amoudi as permanent honorary president of the ESFNA. As we all know, Al Amoudi is an active member and “election” campaigner of Woyanne.

9. For Al Amoudi’s Ayaya gang, ESFNA is a cash cow that they are milking at will. At one point, the Federation was generating up to $3 million in revenue at the one-week annual event. However, much of the one disappears without a trace. The players are forced to buy their own soccer gear (uniform, shoes, etc.) and some times they raise funds from their local community.

Al Amoudi aid and the real boss of ESFNA Abinet Gebremeskel who lives and acts like a mafia boss

10. It must be noted that most of the ESFNA members are innocent Ethiopians who are being victimized by a well-financed, mafia-like group under the supervision Al Amoudi’s aid Abnet Gebremeskel. Visible and active members of the gang are Ayaya Arega, Sebsebe Asefa, Endale Tufer, Arawit, and Fassil Abebe. Another member of the group, Solomon Tekle, is facing long prison term after being convicted of heroin trafficking. Their mission is to keep the ESFNA under the control of the ruling Woyanne junta, while stealing its funds with impunity.

Ethiopian Review’s investigation of ESFNA continues. We urge any one who has any credible information to contact us at [email protected] or call 202 656 5117. What we have uncovered so far is so outrageous that we are compelled to report our finding to the FBI. Click here to read.

Addis Dimts Radio has a discussion about ESFNA on its Sunday program. Listen here (forward to 1:04:01):