17 April 2018

Ethiopia: Crowed Violence Interrupt Woldiya City-Fasil City Encounter

Once again crowed disturbance led to the interruption of the 19th week of the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) match between Woldiya City and Fasil City that took place at Sheikh Mohammed Alamudi stadium in Woldiya on Wednesday.

The match was level at 1-1 up to the 90th minute but the eruption of crowed violence came right after the visiting side Fasil City converted the spot kick just a few minutes from the final whistle.

That completely changed the atmosphere and led to the interruption of the game. In addition to the interruption of the match, the crowed who invaded the pitch beat referee Lemi Nigusse and his assistant Mustefa Meki. Woldiya City head coach Zemariam Woldegiorgis was also hurt by the crowed. The trio were hospitalized after sever injury.

This was the second crowed violence that led for the interruption of the EPL match in just 10 days. The first match that was interrupted was between Mekele City and Wolwalo Adigrat University.

The country's football, governing body, the Ethiopian Football Federation didn't so far impose penalty on either Woldiya City or Fasil City.

For that matter the federation still unable to penalise Mekele City or Wolwalo Adigrat University.

In any case this kind of crowed violence has gone down since the deadly crowed disturbance in Woldiya in November 2017 during the Mekele City and Woldiya City encounter.

The Woldiya City and Mekele City match which was intended to be played in Woldiya was interrupted due to fan violence flared up hours before the start of the game.

This was not expected prior to the violent confrontation among the fans of the two sides. It was reported that the violence began four hours before the start of the game. Mekele City joined the elite league this season.

In terms of points, the gap between Fasil City and Woldiya Ciy is wide. What will happen if their points are close with each other? In other words, what will happen if the two sides play for title or to avoid relegation?

It is still difficult to put the burden of responsibility on this or that side. In the wake of the Woldiya City and Mekle City brutal skirmishes among the fans the scale of crowed violence has gone to a minimum level. The hope was that fans learnt a big lesson from the damages of the Woldiya incident. It seems now the incident is coming back.

The EFF strongly warns that all sides taking part in the competition not to involve in any kind of violence in or outside of the stadium. This was disclosed in a gathering of all stakeholders just days before the start of the seasons competition.

The EFF by then said the punishment for violence will include suspension and point reduction besides financial punishment.

Apart from the Woldiya incident the break out of violence was registered at Jima. Reports confirmed that Jima Abajifar's arena was banned for two matches as a result of fan disturbance during their first day match against Hawassa City. The EFF looks determined to impose harsh penalty to control the looming football hooliganism in its bud but the danger of its rising trend is visible. One confirmation is the interruption of Fasil City and Woldiya City.

To many in Ethiopia the scene during the derby match between Saint George and Coffee has always been tense. This is understandable because the rivalry between the two teams is a public knowledge. The good news is that their violent confrontation diminished dramatically.

The problem in the Ethiopian case is the offender is not liable to the offence he or she committed.

Take a look at Europeans: In the 70s and 80s Marxist sociologists argued that hooliganism was a response by working class fans to the appropriation of clubs by owners' intent on commercialising the game. It sounded a flaky reason then - especially given that violence was directed at other fans not owners - and in the Premier League era it sounds outright nonsense.

Other explanations from the period, including blaming the permissive society and economic failures of the early 80s, are also now widely dismissed. Instead the most sensible-sounding reasons - a combination of tougher laws (banning alcohol and racist chanting and barring misbehaving fans) and a higher chance of detection (through CCTV and improved stewarding and policing) coupled with wider changes in society, a broadening of football's fan base and much better stadiums - are almost certainly the right ones.

The conclusion from this that make the wrong doers responsible for what they did using security camera.

Same day, Wednesday, the league leaders Dedebit dropped two points following a goalless tie with the visiting side Dire Dawa City at the Addis Ababa stadium. Saint George beat Sidama Coffee 1-0 to improve their position to the third place on 30 points.

Jima Abajifar who collected the full three points with a 1-0 win over Mekele City went one ladder up to take the second place on 32 points from 19 games, a point adrift of the league leaders Dedebit.

Arbaminch City beat Coffee 2-0 to get the full three points while Adma City got a 1-0 win over the visiting side Mekelakeya. In Adigrat, the visitors Electric shared a point with the home team Wolwalo Adigrat University as a result of a 1-1 tie.

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