FIFA: Embarrassing Ethiopia docked 3 points


Not many people are impressed with the way African football has been run over the years. We aren’t the least enthused about buying the “mark-of-the-beast” that CAF President, Issa Hayatou and his cohorts have been selling. Forget about the charade that is the presidential election. The truth of the matter is many of us who have spoken against this “autocracy” are a billion light years away from the CAF Executive Committee; the ultimate decision-making organ of the continent’s governing body.

It is frustrating when the combined prize money for winning the CAF champions league and the African Cup of Nations comes nowhere near what the 10th placed team gets in the English Premier League (a whopping £2.2million difference). Various national leagues struggle to raise sponsorship and many more Hayatou-like administrations are springing up worryingly all over the place. More than 12 years since the turn of the century, African countries are denied the pleasure of watching African world cup qualifiers live in the comfort of their homes – a very sad and unfortunate situation. You sure to find European and even South American qualifiers than you would find African qualifiers on your TV.

But this very article is not about CAF. Indeed that is a topic for another day. I simply cannot lay this “tasteless mashed potato” I’m carrying on their plate. Perhaps 50 years in the wilderness may have rendered them archaic or they were just plainly eager to win their group. Ethiopia have just handed South Africa and Botswana crucial lifelines in the quest for Brazil 2014 having been docked 3 points by FIFA for fielding an ineligible player.

Amateurish, unprofessional and downright embarrassing – in this day and age, it is an unpardonable gaffe. If Ethiopia fail to make it out of this group into the final qualifying round as a result of this, the citizens of that country should march the members of the FA to the outskirts of the village, two bottles of London’s finest dry gin in hand, a castrated long-bearded sheep and some freshly brewed palm wine. And then banish the lot; banish them into the wilderness, deep deep down into the evil forest. Just the way we used to do it in West Africa or anything that works over there too is fine. I simply cannot come to terms as to how this happened or was allowed to happen.

The coach of the National team Sewnet Bishaw says, “I never use pens and papers during matches, let alone keep records of cautions, I only focus on ways to win the match.” I do not agree with him totally. He must have known Minyahile Teshome Beyene, was ineligible to play the game against Bostwana. He should have known, because obviously it seems the midfielder is an important player for the team. But then again if it was a genuine oversight and they were notified, which CAF indicated that they were (even CAF did its job). Then the “tasteless mashed potato” once again must be pushed to the next guy sitting on the table – the guy who says he lost the letter FIFA sent to him notifying the Association, the team and indeed the entire country of Ethiopia that Minyahile was ineligible to play.

Vice President of Ethiopian Football Mr Berhanu, deserves all the “tasteless mashed potatoes” he can get. Honestly it comes off as all too convenient for me, the whole situation and the explanations we’ve heard. But hey, like I keep saying, I am a fair guy. Let’s just say everybody is telling the truth. If that is the case, Mr Berhanu needs to be made to walk ahead of everybody else in that FA in baby diapers with his pot belly hanging (I haven’t seen him, but he sure as hell has no six pacs). Did he report that the letter was missing? If he did what was the response, did they look for it or even simply ask FIFA for another copy??? Not quantum physics my friends, all this.

So as it stands now it is all to play for in Africa World Cup qualifying group A. At the very least it’s still in Ethiopia’s hands as they remain on top with 10 points and play neither of its closest rivals in the final group game. South Africa will feel they are the biggest beneficiary of this FIFA decision; they stay second with 8 points. Whilst Botswana who was the direct beneficiary, receiving 3 points lie third with 7 points.

Ethiopia’s FA president has indicated the he is “likely” to step down somewhere in September when elections are called for executive positions. To affirm his commitment the FA have already sacked general Secretary, Ashenafi Ejigu. But I side with journalists in Ethiopia who have called for the removal of the entire management. In typical fashion, I say let’s even go a step further. Let’s include “the cleaner in Mr Berhanu’s office who mistakenly swept the letter from FIFA into his collection bin, the driver who drove the pickup truck and the kid who failed to report to his mum that he found the missing letter after it had fallen from the pickup truck”. All culpable in my book if you ask me – GROSS NEGLIGENCE!

In all of this, I can’t help but think, when all is said and done, and somehow Ethiopia do not make it, what will be the real value of that letter? How much do you think Ethiopians would have been willing to pay for it? I bet the CIA, the FBI, MI-5… All I am saying is we would be looking at the biggest letter-hunt in the history of mankind.

FIFA is already investigating Togo who also have admitted to a similar offence and await their fate, though the outcome isn’t inimical to their qualification chances. Equatorial Guinea has also been cited in another issue involving players. Hey, you know what, all this administrative madness is too much for me to take. I’m off to watch something to calm down, perhaps a re-run of that Confed semi-final between Spain and Italy? Ya!!!



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