Court of Arbitration for Sport throws out Harambee Starlets Africa Women's Cup of Nations appeal

Part of Harambee Starlets during a press briefing at Kasarani Stadium after Harambee Starlets' camp was disbanded from traveling to Morocco to play Uganda in the AWCON. Feb 16, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Harambee Starlets’ bid to be reinstated in the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) has been thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for sports (CAS).

With the decision, Starlets hopes of featuring in the 2023 World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand have gone up in smoke as the continental tournament slated for July 2-23 in Morocco will be used as a qualifying competition.

Even though Starlets players’ appeal to CAS to order the final two-legged 2022 AWCON qualifiers match against Uganda’s Crested Cranes be played before the tournament kicks off next month has been dismissed, the international body ruled that former FKF CEO Barry Otieno had no mandate to withdraw the team from the qualifiers.

However, CAS says they have no jurisdiction over the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Starlets players’ dreams of returning to the continental showpiece after their 2016 debut in Cameroon were shattered when CAF rubber-stamped Uganda’s qualification to the finals.

Kenya was to face Uganda on February 16 and February 22, but the two-legged fixture was cancelled in January after CAF Secretary General Veron Mosengo-Omba received a letter from Barry Otieno claiming that the Kenyan FA was unable to independently plan and successfully execute any international matches.

The situation was complicated after Kenya was indefinitely suspended from all international football activities by Fifa over government interference in March.

“The appeal was directed against the FKF decision only. No appeal has been filed against the CAF decision to register the withdrawal of the women’s national football team of Kenya ...,” the court said in a statement.

“As to the merits, the sole arbitrator ruled that the decision rendered on 20 January 2022 by Mr Barry Otieno, former CEO of FKF, on behalf of the FKF, was to be set aside as it had been issued ‘’ultra vires’’, “Since no appeal has been filed against the CAF decision to qualify Uganda to the next qualifying round, the CAS could not review it.”

Meanwhile, FKF delegates are set to hold a Special General Meeting at Kasarani Stadium today to discuss the current state of Kenyan football and chart the way forward.