•Bidco United head coach Anthony 'Viera' Akhulia thinks the ongoing standoff is likely to have far-reaching ramifications on the lives of individuals who rely on football activities to eke out a living.
•Immediate former Harambee Stars head coach, Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee faulted the caretaker committee appointed by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, saying it comprises individuals with little knowledge of the game.
Amidst the raging storm that has lately bedeviled the local football scene and thrown all activities into total disarray, there is still a ray of hope for a better future.
This, even as key stakeholders in the football industry tear their hair out in search of lasting solutions as the country continues to witness a sharp division of opinion on how best to handle the impasse between the ousted Football Kenya Federation and government.
The world football governing body, Fifa, has already threatened to impose a two-year sanction if the government fails to rescind the decision it made earlier in the month to oust the Nick Mwendwa-led administration.
Although the threat seems to have ruffled some feathers the wrong way, there are those who have called Fifa's bluff, insisting it's high time the rot in Kenyan football was addressed once and for all.
We managed to engage some key local stakeholders — including football administrators and coaches — who gladly weighed in with a wide spectrum of suggestions on how best to tackle the elephant in the room.
Bidco United head coach Anthony 'Viera' Akhulia thinks the ongoing standoff is likely to have far-reaching ramifications on the lives of individuals who rely on football activities to eke out a living.
Akhulia has, therefore, urged local football stakeholders to accord the matter the utmost sobriety it deserves given its huge significance in society.
“I've heard guys support and encourage the looming Fifa ban while claiming it will serve best to cleanse the rot in our football. You can easily afford to rant about the benefits of the ban on radio and social media given you already have a job, be it as a journalist, a business person, or even a teacher,” he observed.
Akhulia lashed out at those rooting for a Fifa ban, telling them not to lose their heads in the wake of the crisis.
“To them, Kenyan football starts and ends with the performance of Harambee Stars. Before you can confidently suggest a ban on Kenyan football, think of Kenya's representatives in the Caf Confederations Cup, Gor Mahia, and Tusker, about the exposure we shall be denying the players of these clubs,” he added.
“Think of that coach from Uasin Gishu or Kakamega who sold his cow to raise Sh60,000 just to attend a CAF 'B' coaching course in Nairobi, and might have checked into a hotel for the entire four months."
“Think of me who also paid my Sh60,000 commuting daily using an average of Sh400 bob daily on transport for the last four months, and now when I'm almost completing the training, you want Kenya banned by Fifa. What happens to our money and the time we have spent?
“Think of that footballer, that coach, that referee, that physio who solely depends on this game to provide for his family. Think of that steward at AFC Leopards or Gor Mahia who waits for his team to have a match so that he/she can get something for his family."
Immediate former Harambee Stars head coach, Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee faulted the caretaker committee appointed by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, saying it comprises individuals with little knowledge of the game.
Mulee said the composition of the committee reflected negatively on the appointing authority's decision-making process.
“Questions have to be asked. How many people in that caretaker committee actually understand the intrigues of Kenyan football? posed Mulee.
“Football has been disrespected because some of the people I see in the caretaker committee don't have the slightest clue about football. Football is a profession. I've never seen a medical problem being solved by a carpenter,” he added.
Mulee reiterated that the committee should entirely be for people who understand the intrigues of football, what Fifa means, what the harmony between FKF, Fifa, and government can bring."
He, however, rallied behind Fifa's call for the formation of a normalisation committee, adding it would be the only way to ensure continuity.
“The FKF should stay intact and allow things to move on. Right now, the league has been stopped for two weeks. In my head, I'm thinking about who will form the next secretariat to run the competitions. Are we about to start afresh?”
“I don't think it is the right thing to do. If we get another office, they'll also encounter opposition and the cycle of misunderstanding will continue year in, year out.”
Mulee emphasized the need to uphold the rule of law in the process of groping for an amicable and lasting solution.
“But for the rule of law, FKF must be respected, the government must be respected and Fifa must be respected.”
“Some companies won't be able to pay players because they will no longer be actively involved in football. There is a lot to lose for the players, the coaches and the referees... the real football stakeholders.”
“I don't find it wise to have a problem with the president and then close the secretariat since football is run by the secretariat. There is also the administration part,” he added.
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.
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.
Shikanda is not entirely isolated in this corner of thought. In a terse press statement signed by chairman John Tonui, Kenyan Premier League side, Posta Rangers, expressed satisfaction at Amina's shock move to eject Mwendwa's team from Kandanda House following a prolonged tussle.
Read the statement:“ The management of Posta Rangers wishes to take this opportunity to confirm to fully support the disbandment of Football Kenya Federation by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Culture and National Heritage, and the formation of a caretaker committee with effect from November 11, 2021.”
Tonui said he appreciates the fact that the CS has acted within Fifa statutes and in accordance with Sports Act guidelines in safeguarding public interest regarding the management of sports in Kenya.
“Posta Rangers is officially sponsored by postal Corporation of Kenya, a state corporation established by an Act of Parliament (1998) and thus the club has an obligation to support government's decision at all times,” read the statement.
The club also distanced itself from the lawsuit challenging the Cabinet Secretary's position on the disbandment of the federation, now or in the future.
“The management of Posta Rangers is fully committed to supporting the caretaker committee as they take up their mandate of running the federation in the next six months as directed by the national government,” said Tonui.
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.
KCB head coach Zedekiah 'Zico' Otieno echoed Mulee's concerns, saying the most hard-hit would-be coaches, referees, and players who rely solely on football for their livelihood.
“Where do you expect all these people to go and how do you expect them to take care of their families in the event of a Fifa ban? he posed.
“Coaches and referees will suffer a lot. Kenyan referees have the quality to officiate international matches, they will be locked out, coaches like myself cannot work outside the country. We have coaches in class, they will have to stop,” said Otieno.