Dallas & D.C: Tale of Two Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments

The 29th Annual Ethiopian Soccer Tournament will take place in Dallas from July 1st to July 7th, 2012, while a new, separate tournament will be held the same week in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chicago 2009 / Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Last winter, when the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA), a 29-year old non-profit in charge of hosting the annual Ethiopian Soccer Tournament, elected new officers and sent out a press release announcing Dallas as the location of the 2012 Soccer Tournament, we reported that the much publicized disputes among the board members seemed to have been amicably resolved. Since then, however, things have dramatically changed.

“There is an ongoing lawsuit and because of our lawyer’s advice, I can not tell you the details of how our organization was formed,” Elias Dimberu, a public relations officer for the newly established AESAONE (All Ethiopian Sports Association ONE), told TADIAS in a recent response to our inquiry. AESAONE is aggressively promoting a rival tournament at the RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. scheduled from July 1st through 7th — the same time the ESFNA sponsored tournament takes place in Dallas.

“There is no court gag order so you can speak to me about whatever you need,” said Johnny G. Berhanu, the spokesperson for the older ESFNA. “The truth is that they are all former members of ESFNA, including the ex-president who lost an election, who have chosen to set up various entities basically disregarding not only the law but the bylaws of ESFNA as well.” He added: Our bylaws say no board member of ESFNA can use ‘proprietary data’ including business contacts for their own personal use for at least two years after they leave the organization. These guys stole our corporate identity, they took our sponsor accounts. They tried locking us out of our bank account and our website. Believe it or not, we were first alerted to the whole plot by a Verizon fraud department worker, who called to tell us that a couple of those guys were trying to take out two new cell phones using our name.”

The AESAONE PR Officer disagrees, while admitting that the group was forced to re-brand itself after facing a trademark infringement lawsuit in April for its previous name, ESFNAONE. “We’ve changed the name as required by law,” Elias responded.

“It took the judge less than fifteen minutes to approve a temporary restraining order against them, which has since been extended,” Johnny remarked regarding the lawsuit. “They can never, ever be able to use our name and confuse the public again.”

And the soccer teams? “There is no shortage of Ethiopian soccer players in the Diaspora,” answered Elias. “In fact, there are way too many.” He added: “People forget that there is more than one Ethiopian team in every major city. We already have 28 teams registered from the U.S., as well as one from Australia and one from England.” According to Elias, the D.C. tournament is sponsored by MIDROC, the company owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi. “They are covering the entire tournament for three years, whatever the cost, no strings attached,” he said.

“The man has given them 2 million dollars and they are going around trying to buy players, offering them up to $10,000 in some cases,” Johnny charged. “I personally know someone in Canada who rejected their bribe.”

“That’s hearsay,” Elias objected. He points out that AESAONE was a sponsor and actively recruiting teams during the traditional Memorial Day weekend regional tournaments in the West coast, the Midwest and the South. “There were ten California teams participating in Sacramento, for example,” he said. “Nine in Atlanta and another ten quality ones in Minnesota.” He added: “For the first time, there will be teams coming from Florida, Arizona, South Dakota and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.”

Elias continued: “In terms of money, we are covering transportation costs, including airfare, for 20 players of each team that are participating in our tournament. We are also providing each team with five hotel rooms. In addition, all teams receive one full jersey. And in case of emergency, each players gets up to $100,000 insurance coverage for injury which they can use throughout the year. Furthermore, for the first time we have arranged coach bus service, back and forth, between the stadium and the hotel.”

Addressing the ongoing lawsuit, Elias declined from sharing details except to state, “We are in settlement negotiations at the moment.”

But Johnny is willing to talk. “ESFNA is asking to recover court expenses and other damages from them,” Johnny said. “So far we have spent about $13,000 in lawyers fees and could go up to $20,000.” He continued: “There is business loss and related issues when they used the ESFNAONE name to promote their event causing serious confusion in the community. As part of the final settlement, we are asking that at a minimum they change their tournament date.”

“That’s logistically impossible,” Elias declared. “There is a reason why we chose the week of July 4th.” He continued: “Most of the players are students and the only major summer holiday where we can attract the players is the 4th of July. The next holiday is Labor Day weekend in September, which is too late.”

“Don’t you think they can do this in August and attract more people?” Johnny asked. “Ultimately, I want you to look for the motive.”

“Our motive is to create an organization that stands for one community, regardless of religion and politics,” Elias responded. “Sports being the pillar, to celebrate our culture.”

“Let me tell you something,” Johnny answered. “I am a volunteer and democratically elected member of ESFNA’s board. After two years if people don’t like what I am doing, they can vote me out.” He added: I am not going to go on a vendetta against the organization that I willingly serve. I am not saying they don’t have the right to start a business. This is the United States of America, they can do whatever they want. I am saying be lawful in your actions and be truthful to the public about your intentions.”

Johnny is using his three week vacation to travel from Canada to volunteer his time working on the Dallas soccer tournament logistics. Ironically, Elias who is working on the D.C. tournament resides in Texas. “Yep! I live right in the heart of Dallas,” he said.

Competition and choices are not bad for any community, but we hope the two sides can find a way to let vendors and the public enjoy both events without forcing them to take sides or choose one over another.

Related Links:
The 29th Annual Ethiopian Soccer Tournament in Dallas
Ethiopian Soccer Tournament in D.C.

41 Responses to “Dallas & D.C: Tale of Two Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments”

  1. 1 Amused Vendor Jun 5th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    The way I see it. It all boils down to the Benjamins!!!

  2. 2 Woy-good Jun 5th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    If I had 2 million to waste, I would most likely build a school or a hospital in Ethiopia!

  3. 3 DJ Dallas Jun 5th, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Timely topic! It’s our turn baby! What’s up dc?

  4. 4 Lela Mesfin Jun 5th, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    This is exactly what needed to be written. Thanks.

  5. 5 Gashaw Jun 5th, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    The intention of AESAONE is clearly to harm ESFNA and Ethiopian unity. They want to harm ESFNA for daring to do what Alamoudi did not want them to do – respect an Ethiopian heroine Birtukan Mideksa. This is not a healthy competition. Alamoudin is using the money to attack an old Ethiopian institution ESFNA.

  6. 6 Aradaw Jun 5th, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Thanks for the revealing expose, Tadias. My take…AESAONE comes off as a personal war being waged on ESFNA by the Sheikh and his sizable army of lackeys. ESFNA can probably use the competition because it has always reeked of corruption and mismanagement but I just don’t see AESAONE as the right organization to do it because they’re a little more than a misguided social experiment born overnight on the whim of a single individual. Scorched earth, anyone?

  7. 7 Joro Jun 6th, 2012 at 1:13 am

    halo my people. interesting article. yigermal!

    BTW, did you guz see the new teddy afro “Tikur Sew” video. It is number “One” in my charts. if not chekc it out. where is teddy gonna be? dc or dallas? that’s where I am gonna be!!!


  8. 8 Mamitu SF Jun 6th, 2012 at 1:34 am

    There is nothing wrong with competition as long as it is clean!

  9. 9 Soccer Mom Jun 6th, 2012 at 5:19 am

    ESFNA can find sponsors that can much or exceed the Saudi’s wallet! Yes, you can! This is America!

  10. 10 Ethiopian American Jun 6th, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Al needs to find better things to do with his money. What we need is another billionaire that will tell Mr. Alamoudi to chill out man.

  11. 11 Abebe Jun 6th, 2012 at 10:09 am

    It is really healthy to have two competing tournaments if it does not becomes very political, as it is increasingly becoming.

  12. 12 Mimi Jun 6th, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Healthy competition is good for our community.

    I live in NY and I’m just glad there’s going to be event in DC. If I lived closer to Dallas I probably would’ve go there but DC is easy commute.

    Success to both organizations!! Bickering is not attractive though. These days there are enough Ethiopians all over US to attained both events.

  13. 13 Yohannes SF Jun 6th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Politics and sport have to be separated.

  14. 14 wey ye ethiopia telat Jun 6th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    money can’t buy every one but it could buy some people like al-mouldi use his money to divide the ESFNA. Those guys are really evil to All ethiopian. really people should ask themselves What is the need for another tournament on the same same day and under the same cause. which is not about money. it is seriously evil thing. AND all i wanna say that all ethiopian should know more about this evil thing in detail. more more media coverage !

  15. 15 Jote Jun 6th, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    For me, i like different options, but there is something fishy about the DC TOURNAMENT. SOMETHING smells fishy to me. That’s my feeling. Changing the date makes a lot of sense.

  16. 16 Addis Jun 6th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    It is clearly the scandal is a war between Ethiopians and Alamudi. His unholy relationship with the ruling regime is making him do unimaginable things. When the whole thing unravels, the fall out will come to one thing-freedom from tyranny. It is a matter of time.

    By the way, you maybe be interested that the new tournament organizers are recruiting non Ethiopians in a rush to break up the real thing.

  17. 17 Ethiopiawiw Jun 7th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Democracy!!! Please respect one another. This is America, right? So, please enjoy the very freedom you have, and know your rights and obligations too.

  18. 18 betty Jun 7th, 2012 at 11:37 am

    It’s obvious that AESAone is created in order to destroy ESFNA and any layman with a common sense can easily understand the intention of AESAone which is formed by the current Ethiopian govt supporters via Al Moudi in order to mislead Ethiopians which is a total political affiliated groups. For that matter, the newly members of AESAone whom are the ex members of ESFNA are easily sold out their god given minds and willing to die for their belly in order to gain a few financial goals which is unfair and shameful act. At this moment it is a critical decision of pure Ethiopians who should use thier common sense and say enough is enough rather than blowing in the direction of wind and governed by emotion. Indeed, the AESA one has the right to introduce their business however their motive is well known therefore pure Ethiopians should stay with ESFNA and show our undivided attention and say enough is enough and boycott the events of AESAone that is organized by some money monger individuals.

  19. 19 Mestawet Jun 7th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    For anyone with the slightest idea as to what constitutes a healthy competition it is abundantly clear that this has nothing to do with good competition.

    In this case Alamoudi is giving millions of dollars to those who are ready to dance o his tune while ESFNA volunteers are working with no compensation. Where is the level playing field which is needed for a health competition?

    Alamoudi is subsidizing those who are ready to ignore the real reason behind the annual soccer game which is bringing together Ethiopians as one united people. Alamoudi benefits a great deal from having Meles and Sebehat mismanage Ethiopia forever because this means he will continue to steal tons of gold from Ethiopia.

    Let’s admit the truth about the reason behind the creation of this new gropu. It is attacking Ethiopia.

  20. 20 Amare Jun 7th, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    There no wrong to have another gathering. Why they do it on the same day and month if it is not hurting the ESFNA and as a whole the community. It is shame for those Alamoud’s puppet selling their pride for money which dont last long.

  21. 21 abayeth Jun 7th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Teddy Afro’s Tikur Sew Official Music Video released,


  22. 22 Amalek Jun 7th, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Forward with ESFANA since it is an all-Ethiopian-American grassroots organization catering for 29 years to all Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians. For those who believe competition is healthy, are you implying that another FIFA should be created and compete with the current one to conduct world cup?

  23. 23 stifanos Jun 10th, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Go DC!
    I live in northern virginia and am glad there is an option to attend the games without having to fly half-way across the country. Besides, as far as being political, it was EFSANA that first politicized the issue. To the writer who made a commment in regards to another FIFA, my answer: SURE, WHY NOT?

  24. 24 stifanos Jun 10th, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Mestewat, finding a sponsor is the responsibility of the entities… You can’t possibly fault those who found a sponsor for having found one. As for your “level field”, when in human history has field been level?? Will I ever have the same chance of making it as Warren Buffett’s child? As far as “mismanagement” of Ethiopia, I think the same could be said for every leader that has presided over that nation…

  25. 25 Amalek Jun 10th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Hey Stifa, even the USSR did attempt to split the Olympics during the 1980s. “Where is the beef?” anyway.

  26. 26 Askale Jun 13th, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Actually, this is a good opportunity to clean up the Federation which has been essentially a corrupt and troubled organization from day one. Now, let those money seeking opportunist go to the Saudi group and let the old Federation join with Ethiopian Heritage. We all know what the division is all about – money and politics.

  27. 27 Mike Jun 19th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Politics and sport have to be separated.that said,
    Guess who was financing ESFNA before Alamoudi…. people please educate yourselve about both ESFNA & AESONE .They’re both about money & greed!!

  28. 28 England Jun 19th, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    This type of behavior is what will keep us forever behind from the rest of the world. We don’t know how to unite under a common goal. Ethiopian’s, learn from the Indian’s and the China man.

    I don’t even attend this event, but it saddens me to read such things when we know right from wrong! In the end this is no healthy competition, but yet another example that money talks. So my friends, save your money and donate it to a cause that will do good.


  29. 29 sami from va Jun 19th, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    we are not gone miss Dallas ………GO go go…… we love you Ethiopia!!!!!

  30. 30 AJ/Toronto Jun 20th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Its very shame to us the Ethiopian community in North America(diaspora) to split our unity. that’s probably why we are right now. Sheikh mohammed al amoudi will do anything to help the current government regime because he invested billion of dollrs illegally in Ethiopia with the help of the current ruling regime if the ruling regime falls, al amoudin will likely to face investigation and probably will loose billions as well as wi face trile with the current ruling regime. so the sheikh will do anything to split the Ethiopian community out side of Ethiopia like what the ruling regime doing inside of ethiopia just to extend is life in power.

  31. 31 Tsion Jun 20th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Is the split political? Yes. Should sports and politics be separated? Nothing is separated from Politics. Everything in some way, shape or form is connected to Politics (even Religion). Was this split intended to create competition? No. ESFNA is supposed to be a NON-PROFIT organization. Was it corrupt? I don’t know, but from what people that appear to know about this issue say, looks like it was corrupt. Where did all the corrupt members of ESFNA went to, I will bet they all got together and organized AESAone!!! Al Amoudi offered millions in the past to buy out ESFNA (I think 14 million to be exact). The board members of the original ESFNA voted to not sell-out. The majority won, so majority obviously was not corrupt in the original organization. If it was, they would have voted to sell out to Al Amoudi and enrich themselves. ESFNA was created to UNITE ALL ETHIOPIANS IN ONE PLACE AT ONE TIME. I don’t think anyone has a problem with organizations creating and sponsoring events similar to ESFNA event in different places at different times for business or non business purposes. The problem, is when ESFNA’s identity is being stolen and misrepresented. Soccer competitions outside of ESFNA already take place (East vs. West…etc. etc), but there can only be ONE ANNUAL OFFICIAL ETHIOPIAN SOCCER TOURNAMENT. If you split FIFA or Olympics, those loose their historical significance. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t EURO CUP, AFRICAN CUP…ETC. CUP…or Olympic qualifier games. The bottom line is, the split was politically motivated, and that motivation materialized into reality with the aid of those who are financially motivated who sold-out for less than originally offered, instead of 14 million, they sold-out for 2 million. By the way, money that ESFNA get’s goes to support and fund projects in Ethiopia. Those of us who continue to support original ESFNA would need to demand better transparency of where the money that goes to this non-profit organization is applied. And I also believe that officers of the ESFNA organization or any non-profit organization need to be fairly compensated for their time and energy while transparent financials are available to the public.

  32. 32 Abby Jun 20th, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    BTW woyane was trying to divide and create two ESFNA for a long time. Alamudin must be their hand. He can not buy my vote.

  33. 33 fish Jun 21st, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    can’t wait Dallas. I will you soon. lets play some soccer.

  34. 34 Zapaw Jun 26th, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Go Dallas! We got ur back!

  35. 35 አባቆልፍ Jun 27th, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    አማርጭ መኖሩ እኮ መጥፎ አይደለም። በበኩሌ፣ “እስፍና” ከሚችለው በላይ እንዳደገ ከ5ዓመታት በፊት ተገንዝቤያለሁ። ይህንን አዲስ ሽክፍ(ፌዴሬሽን) እንደመጥፎ ማየቱ ተገቢ አይደለም። በተለይ ተገልጋዩ እና ስፖርት አፍቃሪው በእቅፍ ቢቀበለው ጥሩ ነው። እንዳውም 3ኛ ና 4ኛ ተጨማሪ ያሻናል ባይ ነኝ። ስለዚህ እስፍና አቤቱታውንና ስሞታውን ተዉና፣ መቀነትን ጠበቅ አድርጋችሁ ተወዳዳሪ ለመሆን ሥሩ። እንደዱሮው የመጨቃጨቅን ልምድ አጥፉ፣ ረዳ-ሰራሽ ድርጊቶቻችሁን አስተካክሉ። ህዝቡን ለማስደሰት፣ የኳሱን ደረጃ ለማሳደግ፣ ከዚያም አልፎ በ ኤም.ኤል.ኤስ ደረጃ ለመሳተፍ ሞክሩ። እይታችሁ ወደፊት እንጂ ወደ ኋላ አይሁን። እንደዛ ከሰራችሁ ተከታያችሁ አይሳሳም፣ ደጋፊያችሁ አይተዋችሁም።

  36. 36 Ethi for life Jun 28th, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Ethiopian soccer in the states has never been about the soccer- it’s people getting together- i would not even know it if the players were Iraqis – were just a cursed people with no hope- I don’t even know why I’m proud to be ethi- I swear I’m changing citizenship

  37. 37 Exiled Jul 1st, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Al Amoudine is striking back on Ethiopians. He is dead wrong. Money is not everything. If I were him, I wouldnt start a war witb people no matter how much money I have. I would think he would be smarter.

  38. 38 Mitmita Jul 3rd, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    You all making a mountain out of sand hill. There is nothing wrong with having another tournament! Let the people decide where they want to go. This is America people, you have the right to protest and they have the right to hold their tournament. In the Ethiopian community, why do they try to force you to take sides instead of courting you for it? Yegermal, indeed. Unacceptable!

  39. 39 tadeos Jul 11th, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Unite or divide, no one organisation should think it should have the monopoly over the diverse masses. Both organisations can exist alongside each other without squabbling over who should represent the community of Ethiopians in the American Diaspora. THose making too much noise are upset because they feel threatened. Competition is good for the people though not necessarily so for the organisers on either side. So in stead of hurling insults and accusations at each other , both organisations ought to strive to outdo each other. Ultimately that’s where real arguments are won and lost in the eyes of the community.

  1. 1 Dallas & DC: Tale of Two Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments – Tadias Magazine | The Art Of Soccer Pingback on Jun 5th, 2012 at 6:23 pm
  2. 2 Dallas & DC: Tale of Two Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments – Tadias Magazine Ethiopian News Pingback on Jun 5th, 2012 at 7:52 pm
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