Kenyan football is back: FIFA lifts ban on FKF

Fans cheer during the Kenya Premier League match between AFC Leopards and League champions Tusker FC at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. April 24, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

World football governing body FIFA has lifted a ban on the Football Kenyan Federation (FKF), the body in charge of football in Kenya. 

The ban was imposed last year, following state interference in the country’s football operations, alleging corruption and embezzlement of funds.

In a statement by FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura, following the ban, the global body will send representatives from both FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to meet the newly appointed Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba.

“The bureau of the Council decided on November 25 to lift the suspension of the FKF with immediate effect,” Samoura’s statement reads in part.

“Upon lifting the suspension, a FIFA-CAF mission will be deployed to Nairobi in order to define the next steps for the FKF and to meet with the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Sports,”

Because of the ban, no Kenyan team, including club sides were allowed to compete internationally.

Kenya has missed three continental events for among them the men's 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with club sides also omitted from the CAF Confederation and Champions League games.

All domestic club leagues, which were due to start in late August, failed to kick off after teams vowed to boycott competitions until FIFA sanctioned the league.

“We want to solve the current standoff between FKF and FIFA as soon as possible. Outgoing CS Amina has well briefed me and we want to look at the proposals put forward herein to solve this matter taking into account President Ruto’s call to fidelity to rule of law,” said Namwamba.

However, FIFA says the decision to lift the ban was made without the influence of the ongoing investigations and court proceedings.

In November last year, former Sports CS Amina Mohamed sent FKF president Nick Mwendwa, CEO Barry Otieno, and other FKF officials packing over allegations of misappropriation of funds at Kandanda House.

At the same time, she formed a caretaker committee led by former Judge Aaron Ringera to steer the wheel at the federation for six months.

While writing to FKF, FIFA warned the Cabinet Secretary of a ban imposed by it if her decision was to be upheld.

The global body even opened room for a meeting with the embattled federation officials and the Sports Ministry to address concerns raised.

In a communication, Samoura had asked the former sports CS to reinstate the officials. She did not comply and as a result, the body banned Kenya.

This was after Nick Mwendwa was arrested, detained, released, re-arrested, and charged with fraud of Sh39 million.

The case is still in court.