WHICH WAY KENYAN FOOTBALL?

What do football stakeholders think about CS Amina, Mwendwa standoff?

Matters got to a head when embattled FKF doyen Nick Mwendwa stormed the Goal Project offices earlie in the week.

In Summary

•Mwendwa stormed the FKF premises accompanied by chief executive officer Barry Otieno and a motley of handlers. Mwendwa was categorical that he deserves to be in office

•Kenyan Premier League clubs have ultimately resolved to spurn all competitions organized by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Transition Committee.

FKF President Nick Mwendwa opening the gates of Goal Project in Kasarani.
FKF President Nick Mwendwa opening the gates of Goal Project in Kasarani.
Image: HANDOUT

There is an elephant in the room; quite an enormous problem that requires urgent attention.  

Kenyan Premier League clubs have ultimately resolved to spurn all competitions organized by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Transition Committee.

What perturbs most is that this is the only body mandated to run football in the country at the moment. 

The committee's head of secretariat, Linda Oguttu, released a statement earlier in the week communicating new dates for the Kenyan Premier League season.

Even more disturbing was the fact that the TC was pushing back the league for the third time in a month.

“Please note that due to the upcoming Kecoso games in which several FKF Premier League clubs are scheduled to participate, the start of the 2022-2023 FKF Premier League season has been postponed to Saturday, October 1, 2022,” read the statement.

Despite all the efforts put in place, the future of the TC-run competition now remains bleak. The rain has unrelentingly pounded the government-backed committee since its inception but things have turned murkier in recent days.

Firstly, there is a vicious salvo from an enraged and berated Nick Mwendwa-led federation the committee has to fend off. In the fashion of a militant bull, Mwendwa stormed the FKF offices to reclaim his fort after being locked out in the cold for 313 days.

The Mwendwa-led administration was ejected from office last November by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed who subsequently constituted a caretaker committee to run football in the country.

The CS said her decision was informed by grave allegations of graft facing the expelled office.

Amina's decision led to Kenya's suspension from the international stage by the world football governing body, Fifa who demanded Mwendwa's reinstatement as a precondition for lifting the ban.

But the embattled FKF honcho has now decided to hit back and he is doing so with bare knuckles. On September 8, Mwendwa caused a stir when he penned a letter to Fifa President Gianni Infantino, expressing his desire to reclaim FKF leadership.

The embattled FKF president emerged from the cold to seize control of the federation's offices at Goal Project in Kasarani, exactly 313 days after he was locked out.

Mwendwa stormed the FKF premises accompanied by chief executive officer Barry Otieno and a motley of handlers. Mwendwa was categorical that he deserves to be in office.

Addressing the media from Kandanda House on Tuesday, Mwendwa tore into Amina for appointing the Transition Committee.

He further lashed out at the Transition Committee for pooling the wool over the public eye for a whole year.

“It's quite unfortunate that some people decided to follow another direction simply because they wield excess power,” Mwenda said.

“We have only one federation in this country. Some people have wrongly claimed ownership of the federation for almost a year now. Let them continue misleading the public,” he asserted.

He reiterated his desire to have the ban by the world football governing body, Fifa, lifted immediately and assured local football enthusiasts they will soon be watching international matches at home.

“Our immediate focus is to ensure that the Fifa ban on Kenya is lifted as soon as possible and everything else will naturally fall in place. We hope that will happen within the next few days,” Mwendwa said.

“Once that is done, I want to assure you that our national teams Harambee Stars and Harambee Starlets will start honouring international matches,” he added.

He asked the country to start preparing for the return of FKF-organised leagues and competitions.

“Secondly, we want to assure the country that competitions will resume next month. If you are an FKF official at the grassroots, go ahead with your plans,” Mwendwa said.

The firebrand FKF honcho revealed that plans were underway to take the referees through the Physical Endurance Tests (PET) and other mandatory training ahead of the new season.

“We also intend to train referees in a matter of days to prepare them for the task ahead,” he said.

“Whatever has happened today attests to our strong faith in God. It also shows the existence of a well-meaning government that not only respects the youth but is also eager to see the development of Kenyan football,” he added.

The development comes barely a week after Mwendwa gave a subtle hint he was planning to regain control of the country's football.

But Sports Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed, has censured Mwendwa for breaking into the Goal Project offices, saying his action smacks of spitting in the face of the law.

But in a terse rebuttal, Amina said Mwendwa's actions reflected a blatant disregard for the Kenyan judicial system.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed
Image: ERICK BARASA

“My attention has been drawn to a break-in at the FKF offices at Kasarani. The information is that the break-in was led by indicted FKF officials, who were legally removed following an inspection by the Office of the Sports Registrar,” Amina said.

Amina said she acted procedurally to constitute the FKF Transition Committee and further went ahead to cite a Court ruling earlier in the year that upheld her decision.

“The decision by the Ministry of Sports on November 11, 2021, has since been upheld by the Ruling of the High Court of Kenya on May 10, 2022,” she said.

The CS cited Paragraph 111 of the High Court Ruling on Petition No. E473 of 2021 Judge H. I Ong’udi that ruled thus:

“After all the above deliberations, I find that save for the issue of the petitioners not being served with the report/recommendations for their reaction and which has been well explained, I find that the respondents (Ministry of Sports, Culture &Heritage) acted within their mandate under the Sports Act to save FKF.”

“It is instructive to note that this decision rendered on May 10, 2022, has not been vacated/reversed and the FKF Transition Committee remains in office and charge of football management in Kenya,” the ruling stated.

The CS said her decision to eject Mwendwa's team was informed by grave allegations of graft facing the expelled office.

“The reasons the FKF NEC was removed from office include the Legal Status of FKF (incompatible with the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Sports Act 2013 & Sports Registrar’s Regulations 2016.”

She bashed the expelled federation for allegedly embezzling funds advanced to FKF by the Government, Fifa, Caf, Multichoice, Odibet, Afcon, and Safaricom among others.

Amina said Mwenda held illegal elections at the county and national levels. Amina's decision led to Kenya's suspension from the international stage by the world football governing body, Fifa.

Fifa demanded Mwendwa's reinstatement as a precondition for lifting the ban.

Other than Mwendwa and his cronies, the Transition Committee has another major problem to contend with. It's barely two days since 12 Kenyan Premier League clubs met and distanced themselves from the Maurice Oyugi-led team.

During the meeting, club representatives said they would not participate in any competition that lacks the blessings of the world football governing body, Fifa.

Nairobi City Stars chief executive officer, Patrick Korir, said they were trying to avoid a repeat of last season's scenario where Tusker's victory went down the drain after they were barred by Fifa from participating in international matches.

“We don't want a similar situation to happen in the future. That's why we are keen to have a league that is recognized by Fifa,” Korir said.

“Clubs have been preparing for the new season, but we have seen a lot of confusion surrounding the league dates,” he added.

“We will only be certain of the kick-off date the day a Fifa sanctioned football body will be put in place,” Korir said.

Korir was, however, quick to add that their decision should not be misconstrued as a vote of no-confidence in the Transition Committee.

“All we are saying is that we need a body whose activities will get the green light from Fifa, even if that means having a Normalization Committee in place,” Korir said.

In a statement read by Gor Mahia’s chief executive officer, Raymond Oruo on Wednesday, the clubs agreed to snub any league that is not sanctioned by the world football governing body, Fifa.

“We have unanimously resolved as KPL clubs that the teams will not take part in any competition that is not recognized by Fifa because it is a waste of investment and time and very little returns coming through,” the statement read.

“What we are saying is that the 18 clubs of the Premier League have decided that we will only play the 2022-2023 season in a properly sanctioned Fifa league because that is the only way our teams and players are going to benefit,” said Oruo.

The development came barely a day after Mwendwa stormed the federation offices, insisting he had officially regained control.

Former FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya has also taken a snipe at Mwendwa, saying he is not fit to hold office anymore given the charges facing him in the corridors of justice.

“Over that period, the SC appointed the caretaker committee which later transformed into the current Transition Committee on June 17 this year. In between, the embattled FKF president Nick Mwendwa was arrested and charged in court with fraud charges,” Nyamweya said.

“While the case has been on and off, with the latest development indicating fresh charges will be placed against Mwendwa, the game has continued to suffer,” Nyamweya added.

“Mwendwa must realise that the game long moved on without him and the least he can do is to stay away and concentrate on the court cases facing him.”

Nyamweya said it was disturbing to hear Mwendwa invoking President Ruto's name in a frantic effort to push his personal agenda.

“It is quite unfortunate that Mwendwa can come out to say that he is being persecuted just because he was a friend of William Ruto,” Nyamweya said.

“President Ruto has been my friend for a long time and as much as I know he respects the rule of law and would not want to be dragged into the drama being perpetrated by Mwendwa. It is only fair to keep this newly elected government out of this mess that Mwendwa and his team have brought into our football.

Sam Nyamweya
Sam Nyamweya
Image: COURTESY

“It is in the public domain from the auditor general’s report and investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations that there are funds that the federation could not account for.

“Introducing politics in this matter is itself the game into disrepute. Article 15 (a) of the FIFA statutes demands that its members be neutral in matters of politics and religion,” Nyamweya said.

The erstwhile football doyen is proposing the formation of a normalisation committee that will involve members drawn from the government, the expelled federation and other key stakeholders to chart the way forward.

“The events of Tuesday this week where Mwendwa accompanied by some members of the disbanded NEC and some hired goons invaded the Goal Project and broke in an attempt to take back control of the offices have gone ahead to prove that Mwendwa wants to illegally return to the office.”

Nyamweya said the move by the Kenyan Premier League clubs to boycott the start of the league until the matter surrounding the management of the game is resolved is just a clear indicator that the issue needs urgent attention.

“As football stakeholders, we have said that two wrongs do not make a right. The CS it has been ruled by the High Court acted legally in disbanding the Federation NEC on November 11, last year and it is the position of many of us that that action needed to be taken against the federation that was taking the game to the doldrums.”

“Legally, the only way to sort the current impasse in Kenyan football is to have a Normalisation Committee with the blessings of FIFA and the government to plan for fresh elections,” Nyamweya stated.

Twaha Mbarak
Twaha Mbarak
Image: HANDOUT

FKF presidential aspirant, Twaha Mbarak, says it is quite unfortunate that Mwendwa is yet to appreciate the fact that football is a social activity used to unite the citizens who are passionate about the game.

“When Nick Mwendwa was elected as the president of the federation in 2015, he embarked on a mission to exclude all stakeholders who were critical of his leadership. This move was actualized when he bribed the members of the AGM to draft election laws that were favourable to him and his associates,” Mbarak said.

“These laws were used to lock out the majority of the clubs and prominent sportsmen and women in the subsequent FKF Elections held in 2019 where the majority of the county officials were coronated unopposed after many of the contestants were locked out of the shambolic exercise. On the other hand, the president planted some people to sanitize his predetermined coronation.”

Mbarak said that Mwendwa was on a suicidal mission to destabilise the patterns that were previously established in the country.

“Our country inaugurated a sports act in 2013 to resolve the apparent endless disputes in Kenya’s sports federations. The sports act was made through public participation to ensure transparency, inclusivity and fairness in all the operations of the federations.

“However, The president and his predecessor have vehemently disregarded the act to break the laws with impunity. In 2015, the sports registrar allowed FKF to conduct the elections with instructions to comply thereafter.

Mbarak said that the FKF elections held in 2019 were a charade after Mwendwa's administration failed to comply with the law, effectively locking out the majority of the stakeholders.

“In 2018, the FKF was issued a temporary certificate with an instruction to comply with the sports act 2013 before the elections of 2019 to ensure free and fair elections for all interested parties.

Mbarak said that all public institutions are bound to public scrutiny and their leaders are accountable to the government institutions and stakeholders.

“It’s unfortunate that the current regime has operated with a lot of secrecy and never entertained public participation and scrutiny,” he said.

“The recent, audit and inspection at Kandanda House by the Sports Register, unearthed a lot of rot, massive corruption and lack of compliance to the required standards of office leading to its disbandment, arrest of the corrupt president and eventual FIFA ban.

He asked FKF to comply with the Sports Act 2013, implement the audit report and recover the loss of public funds

“FKF should also hold a free and fair election organized by a normalization committee appointed by Fifa and the government,” Mbarak concluded. 

 

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