Had the opportunity to watch the football match between Mekelle City and Bunna (Coffee) teams that took place on Sat. Feb. 10 at the new stadium in Mekelle. And I regret to say that the experience was far from enjoyable in almost all aspects, and here is why.

The Stadium

A visiting friend from England – who also was at the stadium for the first time – and I were shocked to see how the stadium is far from finished. Once we passed the security check, the compound was full of rocks, piled up dust, debris and all kinds of construction waste and dirt. This is inexcusable as the unwanted stuff can easily be removed. All it needs is a thinking mind and a commitment to public duty.

The gates and stairs that lead to the seating area are still full of wooden poles aimed to support unfinished construction work, thus stadium-goers have to carefullywatch their head (many of the poles have nails on them).

And if – God forbid – a stampede occurs, the damage would be devastating. How could such an obvious safety hazard be ignored? And who is going to be held accountable if grievous bodily harm or, worse, loss of life occurs due to gross negligence with

When my friend and I tried to bring in bottled plastic water, we were told that it’s not allowed for safety reasons, which we understood, in fact, appreciated the safety measures taken. However, once inside the stadium, it was outrageous to see small stones and rubles (which evidently are more harmful than a plastic bottle)on the stairs and around the seating. Why can’t these be disposed of?

Security was present outside the stadium, but nowhere to be seen in the area where we sat. As a result, while there were more than adequate seats to accommodate everyone, there were some inconsiderate spectators who chose to stand at the very front, thereby obstructing the view of the vast majority who appropriately took their seats. There also was unnecessary movement of people from one end to the other as well as rowdiness by handful spoilers who could easily have been handled by unarmed security staff.

The Game

It really was very disappointing for me to watch a game that didn’t live up to its “premier league” status. Neither team played a good football. The players lacked speed, proper possession and passing of the ball. There hardly was any strong attack or a serious attempt to score a goal, thus the game was unexciting and the goalless result was certainly dismaying.

Instead, the match was full of wasted ball, endless foul as well as real and seemingly fake injuries that nearly all required the rushing of medical staff and stretcher bearers into the field. Misconduct within the field and, to a lesser degree,from team benches – which has become fashionable in Ethiopian football – was also in action.
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