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Tribunal: Fifa issued contradictory position

By Standard Digital - July 5th 2022
John Ohaga (left) Chairman of the Sports Tribunal receives his certificate from Chief Justice of Kenya and President of Supreme Court David Maraga after swearing in at the Supreme Court of Kenya ,Nairobi

It has emerged that world football governing body, Fifa, gave a contradictory position on the Sports Disputes Tribunal’s (SDT) decision delivered on March 17.

This is after the SDT chair John Ohaga revealed yesterday during a hearing with parties to the Football Kenya Federation’s petition that Fifa had agreed in principle with their verdict.

Yesterday’s hearing was a follow up to its order on March 17 to issue further directions on its verdict.

Ohaga’s revelations came after lawyer Nelson Odongo, representing the interested parties to the petition asked the Tribunal to direct FKF to make public the letter they wrote to Fifa informing them of the SDT decision on March 17.

“It is a question I would like to put to FKF lawyer Mr. Omwebu (Victor) as to whether their letter to Fifa was the basis of what came out to the tribunal as a shock because the letter from Fifa came through FKF and not through the Tribunal.

“In a verbal communication with Fifa they agreed in principle with the SDT decision and what remained was for them to thrash out the modalities of how the decision would work,” Ohaga said.

On March 17, the Tribunal ruled that FKF’s Electoral Code 2020 had locked out many aspirants and clubs resulting to FKF incumbents sailing unopposed, an exercise the SDT nullified.

However, in a response to SDT’s ruling on March 25, Fifa Chief Member Associations Officer Veron Mosengo-Omba in a letter to FKF CEO Barry Otieno said: “We would like to highlight that the FKF statutes do not expressly recognise the jurisdiction of the SDT as being the ultimate arbitration forum at national level.

It added: “Moreover, we note that the SDT is not a national arbitration tribunal in the sense of Fifa circular 1010 dated 20 December 2005… Therefore, we wish to emphasize that the relevant SDT ruling has no legal effect on Fifa.”

Lawyer Odongo said: “We note with concern that the same person, who drafted a letter to FKF that Fifa Standard Electoral Code is just a guide and is not binding is the same person who gave a contradictory position as now revealed by the SDT chair.”

He added: “Immediately after the ruling on March 17, Nick (Mwendwa) and his team held a press conference where they said the president would continue in office despite SDT unequivocally saying their term had ended. That stance was confirmed by Veron’s letter on March 25. Is there a correlation between all these happenings?”

Odongo asked the SDT to issue orders to preserve FKF assets and to prevent strangers from accessing the federation premises at Kasarani.

“The SDT ruling was clear that the term of office of the FKF NEC had ended. Therefore, there is a real danger to FKF assets, accounts, official documents if you have strangers in control,” Odongo said.

FKF lawyer Omwebu, however, disagreed with the request saying the Fifa Goal Project is not a government property.

“Granting such orders would constitute government interference. Besides, there is no evidence whatsoever of vandalism as suggested,” Omwebu said.

Journalist Milton Nyakundi appearing as an interested party said: “Protecting assets of FKF including the financial records’ integrity is important. I strongly urge the tribunal to give orders barring unauthorized persons from accessing Kandanda House, which persons are the individuals who served with Mr Nick Mwendwa as NEC members between 2016 and 10th February 2020.”

He added: “History bears witness to how at times like this, certain individuals have vandalised Goal Project as was the case in 2011.”

Nyakundi also urged the SDT to decline the invitation to a meeting by Fifa arguing that doing so would compromise its jurisdiction. “It is my submission that the Tribunal has given its ruling and being part of such a meeting would take away its jurisdiction to hear any possible disputes that would arise should there be any disagreements from the meeting of Fifa, government and the rest of us.”

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