ESFNA falling apart

The Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) is falling apart in the face of leadership crisis and an impending boycott. The 28-year-old organization has been confronted with numerous problems during the past five years after it was hijacked by the ruling party in Ethiopia through its money man Al Amoudi. The problems include corruption, declining attendance at the annual events, lack of discipline, and poor management.

ESFNA’s problems surfaced in the media when the executive committee arbitrarily reversed the 27-member board’s decision last October to invite Judge Birtukan Mideksa as a guest of honor at the July 2011 event in Atlanta and refused to have an independent CPA audit the organization’s finances.

Recently, the finance head of ESFNA, Ato Abework Abay, resigned after pointing out financial mishandling and lack of transparency on the part of the chairman and other members of the executive committee. The new finance head, Ato Million Gebreyesus, and other members of the board have also questioned the competence of the chairman and the secretary in a recent confidential memo. Some have called on the resignation of the chairman, arguing that it would be impossible to hold the scheduled July 2011 event in Atlanta unless solutions are found urgently.

Meanwhile, Ethiopians in Atlanta are preparing to boycott the July 2011 event. Community leaders have warned the executive committee that unless the board’s decisions are implemented, they will advise members of the Ethiopian community to stay away from the event.

To make matters worse for the ESFNA, the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel has canceled its $250,000 contract citing security problems that have occurred at last year’s event in San Jose where rooms had been vandalized and guests were harassed.

During the past five years, the ESFNA has become a source of embarrassment for the Ethiopian community in North America and a political tool for the Woyanne ruling junta. If there is any chance of salvaging ESFNA, the entire executive committee must resign and be replaced with competent individuals who are free of corruption and Woyanne connection.