Oromo Libration Front Army Leader Interview Paradoxically, the same politically-disengaging football, at times, has served as a facet of ideological battle as witnessed in the recently held Ethiopian national football team qualifier playoffs for 2013African Cup of Nations and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
A close observation of the cheering symbols, narrations, actions undertaken on the occasions of the aforementioned matches quite well reveal some tacit contest of symbolic political discourse underway between the government and the larger football fans.
For instance, much of the government-owned media programs attempted to depict the unprecedented recent successes of the Ethiopian national football team presumably as a showcase of the fruits of the government’s economic and social “renaissance” program vindicating the ruling party’s “triumphant” leadership.
Whereas, on the other hand, the cheering symbols, mood and emotions of the larger national team fans speak otherwise. Witness the incident that though the government mandated the hoisting of the new tri-color national flag that has the coat of arms in the middle in all public occasions by law, several enthusiastic fans were trying to manipulate every opportunity that would lend them a hand to wave the tri-color national flag without the coat of arms as an embodiment of the Ethiopian nationalistic sentiment.
All in all, against the dismal record of the present government on the agenda of national unity and solidarity for the past two decades, the nationalistic fervor among people nearly across the whole country and beyond in the wake of the recent occasions of the national team matches evidently suggests the still intact Ethiopian spirit, unity and collective consciousness that has not changed or been diminished as might be expected otherwise. Moreover, the apparent resistant symbolic display by the larger football fans during such moments may also testify a defiant and protesting gesture against the repressive, divisive and polarizing hegemonic ethnic-politics that has been imposed by the current ruling regime