Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America always strives to conduct a successful tournament every year. Our 40th annual tournament was no different. From the opening day till Thursday July 7th, our event was going on smoothly despite the intense heat and several games being delayed due to lightening concerns. We were evacuated from the stadium several times due to lighting that affected the hours spectators can visit our vendor area.
Ethiopian day, Friday July 7th started off very well. The stage was setup well and the musicians were ready to entertain our spectators. About an hour or two after the performance started, our spectators quickly filled the stands on the home side of the stadium to maximum capacity. School officials informed us that we needed to stop the music immediately and have the spectators that were not seated to go to the visitor’s side. At that point in time the sun was down, but despite the continuous requests made from the stage for people to move to the visitor’s side very few people did. At the same time the fire marshal and police department closed the main gate. The closure of the main gate caused a large accumulation of people trying to get in. Before the closure of the main gate everything was under control and people were flowing into the stadium very well after paying the entrance fee. The closure of the gate frustrated the crowd that was waiting in the heat to get in. Some individuals started getting upset and aggressive to a point that some people forced their way through and over run the gates and some jumped over the fence and got in. The school officials then decided to open the gates wide open that allowed the crowd to storm into the stadium. This caused a major loss of revenue. The show continued and spectators were happy with the performers.
Due to what happened on Ethiopian Day, the school forced us to change the game schedule for Saturday so that we totally vacate the stadium by 7:00 pm. A clear message was given to ESFNA executives that they will shut down everything if we did not leave the stadium by 7:00 pm. In order to meet the time line given to us, we had to move up the start time of the division one final by two hours from 6:00 pm to 4:00 pm. We were also forced to cut the playing time from 45 minutes to 35-minute halves in order to complete the game and the award ceremony before 7:00 pm. The final game ended at 5:38 pm and the trophy ceremony started right after. Ticket booths were closed during the award ceremony. Everyone after that was allowed to enter the stadium to watch the conclusion of the award ceremony and entertainment in the vending area.
Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America apologizes for any inconvenience that may have been caused due to schedule changes and for the difficult circumstance we as a group were subjected to throughout the week.