Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has received the Confederation of African Football's (Caf) Gold Order of Merit award.
Zenawi was given the organisation's highest award on Monday in Addis Ababa for his services to African football.
"Football is playing a great role here and in the continent. I will do everything at my disposal to support and encourage the game in Ethiopia," said Zenawi.
In commemoration of Caf's 50th anniversary awards are to be given to the heads of state of the original founding countries of the football body, namely Ethiopia, South Africa, Sudan and Egypt.
"I have also come to recognize the tremendous progress African football has made, but I deeply regret the fact that Ethiopia has not made any progress," Zenawi added, before thanking Caf President Issa Hayatou for the award.
After paying tribute to the late President of Caf, Ethiopian Yidnekatchew Tessema, Hayatou lauded the African Union for its role in initiating "International Year of African Fooball".
"It is up to us more than ever, to cultivate the duty of the memory for generations," Hayatou said.
"We must never forget that Caf is one of the major continental institutions."
Caf was founded in 1957 and presently includes 53 member countries.
The confederation organises various competitions including the African Nations Cup, the African Champions League and Confederation Cup.
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