Government to closely monitor Ethiopian topflight league


By Firew Asrat

The government of Ethiopia will have an extra eye in and around stadiums during league matches, as a precautionary measure against potential anti-government protests, during this period of state of emergency.

President Hailemariam Desalegn, on Sunday, imposed a 6-month state of emergency in the country following months of often violent anti-government protests, especially in the restive Oromia region.

The new 2016/17 Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) season kick-off October 30, but the government will have full mandate to reschedule or suspend fixtures, according to new security command-post directive.

In September, 2016, the government raised “deep” concerns over increased homegrown sports hooliganism.

They cited two incidences in Gondar and Hawassa in which the vice reared its ugly head – during two high profile EPL matches last season.

The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) has been accused of being lenient in punishing clubs whose fans engage in acts of hooliganism, and the government is pressing for more punitive laws through Youths and Sports Commission to be passed.

The new amendments are said to contain provisions for direct relegation to lower leagues, playing in empty stadiums and heavy fines.