20 February 2018

Ethiopia: Football Hooliganism Looks Like a Disease Without Medicine


The art of football has been almost non-existent in the country but after riot damage reaches hundreds of thousands birr at the stadium in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in the country, many people claim the closure of the competition.

Others argue that this is not a solution to the already aggravated football violence or hooliganism in the country.

The latest incident was witnessed last Thursday during the Saint George-Adama City play in the elite league at the Addis Ababa stadium. Few expected that that kind of hooliganism to take place prior to the game. What was true was that no one was arrested for that vandalism and fighting.

In the game that eventually ended level at 1-1, Adama City were in a 1-0 lead. The home side, St. George performance was far below expectations. The fans got angry with that.

That was not the first time for St. George to show poor performance. They dropped points three times in a row at the hands of relatively weaker sides. For instance, the side dropped two points after finishing a goalless tie in Addis facing the bottom side Dire Dawa City.

Media report has it that some of St. George fans discussed with the players about the faltering of their performance at the training session. This was done just 15 days ago. Trying to resolve problems with discussion was seen as a civilized way of treating the issue.

But on Thursday in the middle of the game, in a seat that is commonly called Katanga, stones were thrown from outside. It may be difficult to locate whose fans are responsible for that attack.

Many people were hit by the stone and some of them were seen when they took first aid on the pitch. Luckily the Adama City fans who were in the same wing were not hurt. This was one incident.

The other and serious incident was the decision of some St. George fans to attack their own players out of sheer uncontrolled sentiment and emotion at the end of the play.

It was a terrible incident. The players were stranded at dressing room until the fans were dispersed.

Coffee fans had this kind of disappointment over their players in this season but their reaction really was different. It may even be quoted as good precedent.

It was this: When their side had match, they (the fans) decided to leave the stadium at the 12th minute what ever the score may be at that specific time. Right at the 12th minute all (all) Coffee fans left the stadium. Why at the 12th minute? There is a general consensus that the supporters are believed to be the 12th player of their side. This is a civilized way of showing discontent to the players.

Time and again Sports ministers and federation convened to discuss how to stop what one called "soccer terrorism". But that didn't stop it.

Before the start of this season the federation had lengthy discussion on ways how to stop this deep rooted disease. It was officially announced that the federation would take strong action including point reduction up to suspension if clubs are not refrained from taking part in disturbance. That didn't help stopping violence.

These days football violence appear across the country. In Woldiya the violence that erupted a day before the Mekele City and Woldiya City match led to the death of two people. This was indeed a bad coincidence rarely seen at the stadiums in Ethiopia.

The Woldiya arena was suspended and the club were fined.

Surprisingly enough, this incident took place at the opening day of the Ethiopian Premier League football club competition.

The disciplinary Committee of the federation is expected to impose heavy fine on the club. Well, punishing the club is one thing but punishing the actual perpetrator is absolutely another thing.

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.


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