History of Ethiopian Soccer
- Key periods in Ethiopia's soccer history are listed below in chronological order.
1924 This is believed to be the year when soccer was first introduced to Ethiopia by foreigners residing in the capital, Addis Abeba.
1935 Although not listed as an official international game, the first soccer match between an Ethiopian side and a foreign team took place in the capital when an Addis Abeba selection team defeated a French Navy side from Djibouti 3-1. Yervant Abraham , an Armenian student, scored all three goals. His two brothers, Haigaz and Torkom, also featured in the line-up for the Addis selection.
In December of that year, a group of youngsters, who lived around the Saint George church in the capital , founded the Saint George Football Association, the oldest and most successful team in Ethiopia.
1936-41 The country was occupied by fascist Italy, and during that time, Ethiopians were barred from playing with Europeans. The Italians then established the "Sports Office for the Indigenous". Furthermore, all Ethiopian teams were renamed, thus Saint George became Littorio Wube Sefer, the Kabana team became Villa Italia, the Sidist Kilo team became Piazza Roma and the Gullele team became Consolata.
1942 The first Ethiopian vs foreign expatriate team game was held in the capital between Saint George and Fortitudo of the Italian community, with the Saints winning 4-1. It is quite amazing that sport can bring the two bitter enemies together, just a year after a very brutal 5-year occupation by the Italians.
The Ethiopian Sports Office, which would lay the foundation for the creation of the Ethiopian Football Federation, was also established that same year. Its first task was to draft the regulations for the national soccer championship.
1943 The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) was established.
1944 The first Ethiopian Championship was held in Addis Abeba, with 5 teams representing the various communities in the capital. The five were: St. George (Ethiopian), BMME (British), Fortitudo (Italian), Ararat (Armenian) and Olympiakos (Greek). BMME defeated Fortitudo in the final to became the first champion.
1945 The First Ethiopian Cup (Cup Winners Cup) was held. Once again, BMME won the first cup.
1947 The Ethiopia national team defeated the Djibouti selection 5-0 in the the first official international match in the country.
1950 Norkoping of Sweden became the first European side to play in Ethiopia. The Swedes defeated the Ethiopian national side 6-3.
1952 Ismael Kassab of Egypt became the first international referee to conduct a match in Ethiopia, when the national team played against Panionis of Greece. That same year, the national team visited Europe for the first time.
1953 Teams from Hararghe and Eritrea (an Italian-colony for 60 years prior to its annexation with Ethiopia in 1952) were allowed to compete for the first time, in both the national championship and the Ethiopian Cup tournaments. Army ( Addis Abeba) defeated Hamassien ( Eritrea) 4-3 in the finals, to win the first inter-province national championship.
1957 Ethiopia together with Egypt and Sudan co-founded the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) and took part in the 1st African Nations Cup tournament in Sudan.
1962 Ethiopia hosted and won the 3rd African Nations Cup after defeating Egypt 4-2 in the first overtime final.
1965 The military and police teams were expelled from all competitions, after several disturbances and fist fights in their matches with civilian teams. It would be another ten years before these teams were re-admitted in league competitions after a military regime took power of the country a year earlier.
That same year, Cotton FC of Dire Dawa represented Ethiopia in the first African Clubs Championships.
1967 Between 1953-66, the "National League Championships" were decided through playoffs held in Addis Abeba, between regional champions of Shoa, Hararghe and Eritrea provinces. The EFF felt that the format did not really reflect the true quality of a champion and established the first true National League Championship, consisting of the best 8 teams from Shoa (3), Eritrea (3) and Hararghe (2). And unlike the previous championships, the new system required each team to play home and away.
1968 Ethiopia hosted the 6th African Nations Cup. That same year, the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) celebrated its 25th year anniversary.
1974 Eritrean teams withdrew from all competitions.
1975 St. George took part in the 1st African Cup Winners Cup.
1976 Ethiopia hosted the African Nations Cup for the 3rd time in the tournament history. That same year, 6 players from Mechal (the army team), defected to Egypt, and seeked political asylum. This would become all too familiar for the country as more than 85 players chose to do just that during the following two decades.
1979 All existing teams were disbanded and a new league, made up of teams representing the armed forces, the universities, the workers unions and urban dwellers associations, was established. Ethiopia clubs also withdrew from all African clubs competitions for the next five years (1980-84).
1982 Ethiopia took part in the 13th African Nations Cup held in Libya.
1987 Ethiopia hosted and won the East and Central African Championship when she defeated Zimbabwe on penalty kicks after the two teams drew 1-1 in regulation.
1993 Medin (Insurance) took part in the first African CAF Cup. At the time of the competition, Medhin was struggling in the bottom of the domestic league table but surprised everyone, when the team reached the semi-finals.
1995 The Ethiopian youth team won the East and Central African Youth Cup in Kenya, after defeating their Tanzanian counterparts 3-2 in the final.
1996 Ethiopia hosted and won the East and Central African Youth Cup for the second consecutive time, after defeating the Ugandan youngsters 2-0 in the final.
1997 After a 23-year abscence, the Ethiopian National Championship resumed with 8 teams, representing Addis Abeba, Dire Dawa, Awassa, Tigray and Wollo, taking part in the tournament.
EELPA (Electric) of Addis Abeba won the championship.
1998 Ethiopian Coffee won the Ethiopian championship, which was renamed "National League".
1999 St. George won the League double.
2000/01 EEPCO (formerly known as EELPA) won the League Double.