Clubs: Respect for players, rule of law paramount
President Uhuru Kenyatta with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the AFC Leopards SC vs Gor Mahia FC football match at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi City County. [PSCU]

Only the rule of law and respect for players, coaches, the referees and their families will save Kenyan football from the brink of collapse, football stakeholders said, yesterday.

In a statement endorsed by several Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clubs, referees, and coaches’ associations, the organisations said it will be preposterous to imagine that the law can be ignored.

Speaking in a personal capacity, players’ Union chairman James Situma said he supported every effort within the law that fosters the welfare of the players.

The stakeholders also called on the government to take a proactive role to remedy the leadership vacuum obtaining at the FKF following the ruling of the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) on March 17.

The stakeholders said the stance taken by Fifa’s Chief Member Associations Officer Veron Mosengo-Omba was disappointing adding that it was a recipe for anarchy in an already distressed Kenyan situation.

“Our clubs, players, coaches and referees and their families had already been struggling financially for many months before the coronavirus crisis started.

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“And, with the closure of our leagues in early March and the loss of any chance of attracting new corporate sponsors closely followed by the urgent need to self-quarantine themselves, they and their families are now in an increasingly desperate financial and health crisis,” the statement endorsed among others by KPL clubs AFC Leopards, Mathare United and Kakamega Homeboyz read. The other organisations to voice their concerns yesterday were coaches’ body (KEFOCA), KEFORA (referees).

The chairman of record Kenyan champions Gor Mahia, Ambrose Rachier, warned the deteriorating situation could get worse if not contained and promised to issue a statement today.

KEFWA chairman Situma said: “We must take hard decisions, but which places the players at the centre, but the rule of law must be upheld.”

The SDT ruled that the FA had contravened the Kenyan law besides having outlived its term of office.

Fifa’s Mosengo-Omba, however, rejected the ruling, including a request by the SDT that they form a Normalisation Committee to organise credible elections

The clubs said yesterday such a stance, which also “purported to reinstate the FKF National Executive Committee in the face of the fact its term ended on February 10 encourages anarchy.”

It added: “As legally valid and legitimate FKF leadership is now lacking, the Government of Kenya must urgently remedy that vacuum and now take the lead, preferably in consultation and cooperation with Fifa, to save the livelihoods and likely even lives of the many now desperate players, coaches and referees and their families,” the stakeholders said yesterday.

“Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT), after taking into account the Kenyan Constitution and laws as well as the Fifa and FKF statutes and rules, charted a reasonable way forward which sadly has been initially and debatably rejected by a Fifa official which means there is now a life-threatening leadership vacuum in Kenyan football,” the statement read.

The clubs called on the President of the Republic of Kenya to come to the rescue of the clubs and match officials, whose families are now in desperate financial situation.

“Thankfully, on March 8th H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta personally took the lead and publicly promised his government will help the financially struggling clubs which, given the now desperate financial and health situation of the many KPL stakeholders and their families, will hopefully and urgently happen as soon as possible this week.”

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