THE TOUCHLINE COLUMN

Where does Amina, Mwendwa standoff leave Kenyan footballers?

While seeking to permanently delete Nick Mwendwa from the local football scene, the government must take care not to disorient thousands of Kenyans who depend on football to eke out a living — in the event of a possible Fifa ban.

In Summary

•Amidst all the twists and turns, it's encouraging to witness the existence of a healthy debate among football stakeholders who have weighed in with varying opinions.

•Whereas it is the government's prerogative to intervene in cases where the country's football faces a severe test of integrity, the existing situation calls for a balanced view.

Former FKF president Nick Mwendwa during a press conference at Lamada hotel Nairobi on 11, November 2021. In his statement he said that FKF will continue it’s normal activities as usual and that the federation is still in charge of football.
Former FKF president Nick Mwendwa during a press conference at Lamada hotel Nairobi on 11, November 2021. In his statement he said that FKF will continue it’s normal activities as usual and that the federation is still in charge of football.
Image: MERCY MUMO

Opinion is sharply divided on whether or not the government should uphold its decision to disband Football Kenya Federation.

On Thursday last week, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed swung into action and appointed an eleven-member caretaker committee to run football in the country, locking out the Nick Mwendwa-led Executive Committee from Kandanda House.

Her decision came hot on the heels of a damning report that implicated the administration with gross abuse of office and embezzlement of millions of shillings.

While there exists a school of thought embracing Amina's move, some quarters strongly feel she overstepped her mandate and that her decision reeks of malice.

What began as a polite and innocuous inquiry into claims of financial impropriety at Kandanda House, degenerated into a prolonged public spat pitting the Ministry of Sports against FKF.

No one ever envisaged the situation would assume its current form. Matters have now turned into a fully-fledged war that saw Mwendwa cooling his heels at the Muthaiga Police Station for three nights before he was arraigned and eventually released on Sh4 million cash bail on Monday.

In the spheres of politics, there are outrageous claims insinuating that Mwendwa is merely a victim of deep ethnic divisions jolting the local football scene.

There is no doubt that the FKF honcho has previously been involved in some controversial issues that left him with several eggs on the face.

However, it's only prudent for the warring factions to allow sobriety to take centre stage even as the stalemate heightens into a raging legal battle in the corridors of justice.

Amidst all the twists and turns, it's encouraging to witness the existence of a healthy debate among football stakeholders who have weighed in with varying opinions.

Gor Mahia chief executive officer Lordvick Aduda wants the government to heed FIFA's request to have the ousted administration reinstated at once, while talks are in progress to grope for the elusive middle ground.

Aduda's concerns are pegged on palpable fears that Kenyan representatives in the Caf Confederations Cup, Gor Mahia and Tusker, could be forced to forego their slots in the likely event Fifa makes good its threat to impose the looming two-year ban.

Both Gor Mahia and Tusker have been included in the fixtures of the third and final preliminary stage of the continental showpiece.

Curiously enough, Gor Mahia's arch-rivals AFC Leopards have taken an opposing stance.

On Monday, AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda expressed unequivocal support for CS Amina, arguing it is the government's constitutional responsibility to protect local football from manipulation and harm.

The country has just emerged from the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that sent many sports personalities into bouts of depression. 

Suffice to say none of the footballers would root for a ban regardless of how low the situation sinks. They vividly recall being evicted from their abodes over accumulated rent. There were also cases of break-ups triggered by financial spats between spouses.

Whereas it is the government's prerogative to intervene in cases where the country's football faces a severe test of integrity, the existing situation calls for a balanced view of the picture.

The government must take care not to disempower thousands of Kenyans who depend on football to eke out a living.