THE TOUCHLINE COLUMN

Kenyan government should sit down with Fifa immediately

Tusker had hoped to fly the country's flag at the annual continental showpiece for the second consecutive year after retaining their topflight title in June.

In Summary

• It's unfortunate that those who are meant to benefit from football including the players, coaches and referees have been caught up in the thick of a raging superiority battle pitting the government against Fifa.

• The development is a big blow to the Kenyan football scene given the high expectations the country had placed on both sides after the men's and women's national teams were also locked out on similar grounds.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino
Fifa President Gianni Infantino
Image: FILE

I'm afraid I have some dreadful news for you. The Kenyan football waters are getting murkier.

Neither the government nor the world football governing body, Fifa, is ready to eat humble pie amid the prolonged stalemate and the list of casualties is ballooning out of control.

Subsequently, Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions, Tusker, will not be featuring in the 2022–23 Caf Champions League season.

Tusker had hoped to fly the country's flag at the annual continental showpiece for the second consecutive year after retaining their topflight title in June.

However, that will not be the case after the Ruraka-based brewers got omitted from the Champions League draw conducted by the continental football governing body, Caf in Morocco on Monday.

Tusker are not alone in this predicament. Kenya Women's Premier League (KWPL) champions, Vihiga Queens, suffered the same fate following their exclusion from the Caf Women Champions League Cecafa zone qualifiers draw.

The development is a big blow to the Kenyan football scene given the high expectations the country had placed on both sides after the men's and women's national teams were also locked out on similar grounds.

Unlike community clubs such as Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, the brewers are among the well-oiled clubs in the country and there is no way traveling abroad to honour their fixtures could have posed a headache.

Queens also enjoy massive financial trappings from the Vihiga County government's sports kitty. Suffice to say, both sides would, therefore, have fulfilled their international obligations without a huff.

The Kenyan teams are casualties of an existing stand-off between Kenya and the world football governing body, Fifa.

Fifa suspended Kenya after accusing the government of interfering with the mandate of duly elected Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and replacing it with a Transition Committee.

On February 17, the FKF Caretaker Committee disbanded Harambee Starlets' training camp at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.

This is after Caf gave Uganda’s Crested Cranes a direct qualification to 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) finals in Morocco.

Former FKF Chief Executive Officer Barry Otieno had written to Caf, citing the federation's incapability to host any international matches independently.

In the letter dated January 2020, Otieno indicated that the directive by the government to appointment the Caretaker Committee tied the hands of the federation.

Subsequent government efforts to convince Caf otherwise bore no fruits forcing the Aaron Ringera-led Committee to disband Starlets' camp.

On May 20, Caf kicked Kenya out of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers planned for June. Kenya had been drawn in Group C alongside Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi.

Fifa asked the Kenyan government to repeal the decision to disband FKF if it wanted the sanction lifted.

The development came moments after Fifa President Gianni Infantino announced the country’s indefinite suspension from all football activities.

Kenyans had hoped for a speedy solution to the crisis but if the government's pace is anything to go by, then it seems the country will have to wait a little longer before our faces break into smiles.

It's unfortunate that those who are meant to benefit from football including the players, coaches and referees have been caught up in the thick of a raging superiority battle pitting the government against Fifa.

Hopefully, the two parties will reach a middle ground soon enough.

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