The decision by the world football governing body, Fifa, to lift the suspension it had imposed on Kenya has generated mixed reactions across the country.
Fifa lifted the nine-month suspension on Monday barely a few weeks after newly appointed Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba reinstated the disbanded Football Kenya Federation’s National Executive Committee and Secretariat as well as reopened the federation’s headquarters at Kandanda House in compliance with Fifa’s demands.
While it was resolved that Vice President Doris Petra and General Secretary Barry Otieno to run the federation, embattled federation President Nick Mwendwa will stay out of the office until his pending court case is determined.
The Zurich-based body suspended Kenya on March 31 citing government interference.
This is after former Sports CS Amina Mohamed disbanded the federation on November 11 2021 over allegations of misappropriation of funds and appointed a caretaker committee to run football affairs for a period of six months.
The caretaker was later transformed into a transition committee on June 17 with its term extended for another two months on August 15 before it elapsed on October 16.
But while announcing the lifting of the suspension, in a letter to FKF General Secretary Barry Otieno, Fifa Secretary-General Fatma
Samoura said a delegation comprising Fifa and CAF will be deployed to Kenya to define the next steps.
“We would like to inform you that the situation of the FKF was submitted to the Bureau of Fifa Council for consideration and decision on 25 November 2022,” said Samoura in the letter sent on Monday.
“On this occasion, the Bureau was informed of the official letter dated November 4, 2022 from the FKF General Secretary Barry Otieno to Fifa confirming that the Kenyan government as represented by the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Ababu \
Namwamba, had reinstated the FKF Executive committee with immediate effect. The bureau also noted that the FKF General secretary further asserted that the FKF offices had been handed back to the association‘s elected leaders."
“In view of the circumstances, the Bureau of the council decided on November 25, to lift the suspension of the FKF with immediate effect. Upon the lifting of the suspension, a Fifa-Caf mission will be deployed to Nairobi in order to define the next steps for the FKF and also meet with the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Sports.”
Though former FKF President Sam Nyamweya warmly welcomed Fifa’s move, he feels FKF’s problems are deep rooted and require clinical surgery.
“It is gratifying to note that the Fifa Bureau has in its wisdom considered and found it appropriate to lift the suspension meted on Football Kenya Federation. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Arts led by the affable and indefatigable Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba contribution to the process is highly commendable and sets the tone for deeper mutual cooperation between Fifa and the Government of Kenya,” said Nyamweya.
“The lifting of suspension will definitely allow our national teams and clubs access to the international competition platform at both CAF and Fifa level, our match officials will once again be eligible for appointment in international football competitions, further the international players transfer window hitherto suspended will be reactivated.”
He continued: “I also take cognizance of paragraph 4 of your letter of 28th November 2022 , clarifying the position of Fifa on the ongoing criminal proceedings against the top echelons of FKF.
“It is instructive to note that the lifting of the suspension does not in any way prejudice the criminal proceedings and investigations on FKF and its officials. Granted that the lifting of the suspension is highly welcome, regrettably, the challenges in FKF are deep-rooted and require clinical surgery.
“It is on this basis that the fact-finding mission by FIFA and CAF strongly considers a meeting with the stakeholders with a view to getting a lasting and sustainable solution to the challenges bedeviling Kenyan Football.”
Nyamweya’s sentiments were echoed by former football administrator Twaha Mbarak who congratulated Abubu Namwamba for successfully convincing Fifa to lift the suspension.
However, he was very categorical that integrity, transparency, accountability and the rule of law should never be compromised.
He reminded Kenyans that the country has witnessed over ten caretaker committees and if an order is not enforced, then more confusion will be witnessed worsening the already bad situation of the game.