There is massive financial plowing into stadiums by Addis Ababa as the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) prepares to host the 2020 CHAN and put in a bid for the 2025 AFCON
By Lolade Adewuyi (Goal.com) |
The increase in the number of participating teams at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to 24 means only a few countries on the continent can afford to host the tournament. Ethiopia is building its capacity to become one of those few with an investment of more than $500million in new stadiums across the country.
In 2013, I was in Addis Ababa to cover the World Cup qualifier between Ethiopia and Nigeria at the Ydnekachev Tessema Stadium. Built in 1940, the 35,000 capacity ground was filled up on match day, with fans on the streets in several mile-long queues trying to get in.
Many of the fans came from far flung regions to watch the international spectacle as the Walyas were 180 minutes away from qualifying for Brazil 2014. The crowd was so much that it overwhelmed the tiny media box and one could not find space in the area for computers for live match commentary. But that is all about to change.
Ethiopia’s passion for football saw them host the Africa Cup of Nations thrice during the early years, the last time in 1976. But facilities have largely remained the same until recently when the government began to invest in infrastructure around the country. A new electric train service built by China as part of its five-year Growth and Transformation Plan is being followed by the construction of more than 13 new stadiums.
This country of a 102 million people that has fallen behind in African football hierarchy wants to host the African Nations Championship in 2020 and wrote to CAF about their plans, which is yet to be formally announced but a tweet in 2015 by Ethiopia Football Federation president Juneidi Basha suggested they have secured the rights.
They want to use the CHAN as a launching bid for the 2025 AFCON, Juneidi told me this week.
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