•The Sports Ministry must now weigh all these against the threat of Fifa ban and a long-overdue move to restore sanity to the football management in the country.
•The federations also wear as a badge of honour the number of technical officials they have put through training since they took over
The World football governing body, Fifa on Wednesday threw their weight behind Football Kenya Federation in the continuing tussle over the management of the game in Kenya.
The correspondence through a letter sent to FKF secretary-general, Barry Otieno, was received with glee by federation mandarins as the National Executive Committee, hitherto disbanded by the Sports Disputes Tribunal, was reinstated.
While the current federation officials reserve the right to jump for joy in securing the support of Fifa, the letter by Veron-Mosengo Omba only served to muddy the waters as far as the football situation in the country is concerned.
Mosengo in his letter chided the federation for subjecting themselves to the jurisdiction of the SDT which nullified the FKF polls and disbanded the NEC as the federation’s statutes do not expressly recognise them as the final arbiter.
He severally intimated that the rulings by SDT, a creation of the Sports Act, are not binding to Fifa and that the FKF statutes do not expressly recognise the jurisdiction of the SDT as being the ultimate arbitration forum at the national level.
He, moreover, noted that the SDT is not a national arbitration tribunal in the sense of Fifa circular 1010 dated 20 December 2005 adding that the relevant SDT ruling has no legal effect on Fifa.
All these served to illustrate the disdain with which Fifa holds against a body mandated to mediate disputes presented to them in as far as the management of Sports affairs in the country is concerned.
To further show how contradictory Omba’s letter was, he proceeded to invite SDT and it’s parent Ministry of Sports for talks on how to move forward from the current impasse.
How do you invite a body whose decisions are not binding to you, to help seek solutions in a dispute they supposedly have no say?
This has left the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed with a tough decision to make.
The ministry can’t trash the ruling of the SDT because they will, in a nutshell, be stifling the authority of the Sports Act and tying the hands of its creations which were meant to bring sanity to the sport.
Amina must put her foot down on this matter and call out Fifa for the contemptuous manner they are treating the SDT for undertaking their constitutional mandate.
Amina must before engaging the world football body unequivocally voice support of the decisions made by an independent body in the ministry. If she does not, there is the possibility of other federations or associations despising SDT rulings will accelerate.
Many times the threat of a Fifa ban due to government interference in football matters has been bandied around by successive regimes to shield themselves from being held accountable to relevant matters.
This has, however, never stopped the federation from running to the government for help when they find themselves in a financial bind due to commitments they themselves made.
The issue of the financial compensation towards former coach Adel Amrouche has seen the federation seek the government to help to settle the matter within the 30 days given by Fifa. Why is it good to seek government intervention when in sure straits but cry interference when they seek for accountability?
It’s time for the Sports Ministry to bite the bullet if sanity is to prevail in the management of football in the country.
Variously, the federation has pointed to the gains a generation of players will miss out on should the country be banned from all football activities in the country.
The big question is, in the last four years, what has the local footballers gained by having FKF fully in charge. Harambee Stars went to the African Cup of Nations for the sixth time but could not get out of the group stages. Less is said about the fallouts that ensued, be it the alleged misuse of funds set aside by the government or the failure to treat players injured during the showpiece.
The federation tout women football development as one of their success stories. While there is no doubt that positive strides have been made with Harambee Starlets reaching a first-ever African Women Nations Cup and winning the Cecafa women’s Championships, little has been done to improve women grassroots football.
Despite the federation boasting of a number of sponsorships, none of these help in running the women’s game. Many are left to wonder where Fifa funds meant to support women football are invested. It’s foolhardy for the federation to take credit for footballers to move abroad to pursue greener pastures.
FKF have themselves failed to follow up in its own decrees. When the Mwendwa regime took office, they swiftly moved to implement the Club Licensing as envisaged by Fifa and Caf. However, clubs still go for months without paying their players and some even fail to honour matches yet they had supposedly met the criteria for licensing. These are indications of a body that is keen to play to the gallery rather than one committed to bringing accountability to the sport.
The federation also wear as a badge of honour the number of technical officials they have put through training since they took over. The big question is how many of these coaches get the opportunity to put their newly acquired skills into relevant use.
Most of the coaches instead of earning a living from their certifications, have still to dig deep into their pockets to support the myriad of grassroots clubs even though the federation confidently parade sponsors of grassroots football.
Tens of referees have been trained in recent years but how many get paid by the federations? This burden still is footed by financially crippled clubs.
The Sports Ministry must now weigh all these against the threat of Fifa ban and a long-overdue move to restore sanity to the football management in the country.
The federation must be shown in no uncertain terms that they cannot have their cake and eat it. They cannot, on the one hand, be seeking the support of the government to meet their obligation to Fifa orders while at the same time appear unwilling to follow decisions made by bodies like the Sports Registrar or the SDT which are institutions formed by the same government to help it manage sports.
The threat of the Fifa ban should not be used as a shield to prevent the federation from being held accountable. There are several instances in which nations have suffered bans and came back stronger. It’s indeed time for Kenyan football stakeholders to bite the bullet and allow the country to be set on a path to account management and end the culture of impunity, ban or no ban.