Is reforming ESFNA possible?

By Elias Kifle

Al Amoudi’s aid Abinet Gebremeskel has apparently ordered his servants Ayaya, Fassil and gang at the ESFNA to stay firm on Birtukan disinvitation and ride out the storm, according to Ethiopian Review sources. Having Birtukan as ESFNA’s guest of honor is simply unacceptable to Al Amoudi and Abinet who are currently under the crosshairs of Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin and must demonstrate their loyalty to Woyanne more than ever.

Meanwhile, at least four of the nine executive committee members are demanding reinstatement of Birtukan’s invitation. Several teams have expressed their intention to go public with their demand. In Atlanta, which has been chosen to host the July 2011 event, community leaders and activists are preparing to give a warning to the executive committee that they will call for boycott of the event if Birtukan is not invited. As a way out of the quagmire, the Ayaya-Fasil group within the executive committee is now asking the host team in Atlanta to invite Birtukan without mentioning ESFNA’s name.

Birtukan’s invitation, however, is not the only issue at hand. Equally important is the rampant corruption and malfeasance inside the ESFNA leadership.

It is not a secret that the 27-year-old Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) has been infiltrated and hijacked by Woyanne through billionaire businessman Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi. As a result, for the past 5 years, the organization has been transformed into a political tool for Woyanne. On top of that, the misconduct of some of its officials has been a source of embarrassment for the Ethiopian community in North America. In recent events, we have heard reports about hotels being vandalized, vendors being abused, as well as increasing incidents of illicit drug use and sexual harassment during the annual events. Much of the money that is collected from soccer games and concerts has been embezzled by a group within the executive committee that operates like a mafia group. ESFNA’s 2008 tax return [see here], shows an income of $1.6 million and a total expense of $1.5 million. The bulk of the expense ($1.2 million) is simply itemized as “other expenses.” If an independent accountant combs through the return, it could be uncovered that much of money that is spent for “other expenses” has been misappropriated.

The misconducts, some of criminal nature, are too many to list here. To put it simply, the Al Amoudi-controlled ESFNA is a totally corrupt organization that is an embarrassment to the Ethiopian community in North America.

Is reform possible?

ESFNA’s corruption and shameful acts are recently brought to the surface by a group of concerned individuals within the organization who are determined to reform it and make it a genuine Ethiopian institution that reflects the values of the community. As a first step, the individuals who are striving to reform ESFNA have proposed two things at the board meeting that was held late last month in Atlanta:

1) hire an independent CPA to perform a thorough audit
2) invite Judge Birtukan Mideksa as a guest of honor

The executive committee has rejected both requests, and the Ayaya group threatened to physically attack the individuals who put forward the requests. Some of the team representatives who make up the 27-member Board of Directors fought back and forced the chairman to take a vote. The majority voted for inviting Birtukan. However, in a show of utter contempt to the board’s authority, the lawless Ayaya and gang demanded the members to withdraw their votes, and when they refused to do so, Ayaya, joined by Sebsibe, and Fasil demanded the chairman to reverse the decision. The chairman, who is a puppet of Al Amoudi, complied, causing five teams to walk out in protest.

Before a decision was to be made on auditing ESFNA’s fiances — another even more contentious issue — the executive committee hurriedly adjourned the meeting and started to hand out $2,000 checks to every team representative as a hush up money. The corrupt executive committee handed out a total of over $54,000 just to the board members at the end of the Atlanta meeting. Their hotel and other accommodations were also fully paid. The executive committee squanders the organization’s money in this manner.


1. Dismiss all the executive committee members — with the exception of three or four who are thought to be honest individuals.

2. Remove all individuals in the leadership who are associated with Al Amoudi and Woyanne, namely Ayaya (Eyaya) Arega, Sebsibe Assefa, Fassil Abebe, Endale Tufer, and Demis Lemma (Arawit).

3. Bring in an independent accountant and audit ESFNA’s finances.

4. Remove Al Amoudi’s ESFNA permanent guest of honor status.

If ESFNA is unable to reform itself due to the entrenched power of the Al Amoudi gang, it must be forced to cease operating in the name of the Ethiopian community in North America.