By Joe Michael
The Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America (ESFNA) is a money-spinning organization owned by few individuals who never care for sport at all. The organization maintained its tax exempt status from the Federal and State governments by claiming that it is a non-profit organization, and it doesn’t affiliate with any political group. Ironically, each year thousands of Ethiopians are required to pay fees to watch soccer tournaments; people with political motivation and affiliation have been making donations; soccer tournament gatherings have been used as a juncture for political propaganda, etc.
The leadership of ESFNA has been advised in multiple occasions to be isolated from any politically motivated donation, and to make it clear to the public how much money they are making each year. Since all donations and business profits have been utilized in the name of ‘assisting Ethiopians’, the public has a right to know if the funds have been used for what they were originally obligated for- that is assisting Ethiopians.
ESFNA has been urged numerous times to provide articulated financial records attesting the allocation of funds. To date, no one, except the so called ESFNA executives know how much money ESFNA has raised in the name of Ethiopians, and how much of the money were justifiably spent.
Recently, we learned that ESFNA received a donation of $300,000 from the Ethiopian tycoon, who is a close ally of the current Ethiopian regime. While the motive behind such a huge money donation is mysterious, one thing is very clear for most of us that once again, the ESFNA collected the money in the name of assisting Ethiopians.
Although we appreciate the social gathering opportunity facilitated by the annual soccer tournament, we all hate to see our Ethiopian identity being used to raise money for no other reason than boosting few individuals’ prosperity.
ESFNA should be reminded of its legal obligations that sport gatherings cannot be used as a means for political propaganda, donations should not be collected from politically driven donors, and the public must be informed about the expenditure of funds received from the sale of tournament tickets and donations.
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The writer can be reached at [email protected]
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