Blame game as Prisons’ Chemos misses Europe deal: Kenyan international was forced to spend two nights at Helsinki Airport

Nairobi Water and Seawerage Company Chairman's Cup Prison's Michael Chemos reacts in a game against GSU during the 1st Nairobi Water and Seawerage Company Chairman's Cup at Ndakaini Stadium on Friday, April 28, 2017. {PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

It is a dream of every athlete/player to turn professional. But when the transfer deals hit a dead end, expect a lot of blame games to be involved.

And the script is not different from the recent Kenyan volleyball international Michael Chemos’ transfer saga which has now left his professional career dream hanging in balance. 

Having received a lucrative one year deal offer from Bulgarian side VC Neftohimk, the towering spiker made the necessary arrangements to depart for Europe on September 26, only for him to receive a call from his prospective club while on transit at Helsinki Airport, Finland that his contract has been terminated.

Chemos,26, has been featuring for Kenya Prisons this season despite being suspended by the national league champions for absconding duty in July 2016 after he reportedly joined Finnish side Raision Loimun without their consent. He later joined Al Arabi after the Qatar side bought out his contract in December.

For any transfer to be effected and an International Transfer Certificate issued by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), the parent club, receiving club, federation of origin, receiving federation and the player must be fully in agreement.

But when the Bulgaria opportunity came knocking, Chemos quickly forgot his past woes as he decided to travel without the clearance from his parent club and the Kenya Volleyball Federation.

Chemos argues he informed the concerned authorities about his impending transfer well in advance, only for them to turn their back on him accusing him of abandoning the national team that is preparing for the African Nations Cup cum World Championship qualifiers in Egypt (October 20-30).

Without thinking of the consequences, even after KVF Chairman Waithaka Kioni had warned him, Chemos boarded the flight to Bulgaria.

“I had four offers from Europe while on a national duty in Rwanda. I informed the concerned officials about them before eventually settling on Neftohimk. I went on to tell the federation chairman but he quickly resisted saying that I cannot abandon the team at the time they are preparing for the African Cup of Nations,” a devastated Chemos narrated to The Standard Sports.

“Remember, Prisons suspended me after they claimed I had travelled to Qatar without their permission. So, since Neftohimk had already sent me an air ticket, I just decided to travel.”

However, on September 28 at Helsinki Airport, the unexpected happened as KVF made good of their threat blocking the move.

An unknown federation official wrote a letter to Neftohimk, leaving the attacker in limbo: unable to continue with his transit to Bulgaria, he spent two nights at the airport after the deal went sour.

“While I was at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, I got a call from Neftohimk’s director asking me to send them KVF’s account and email address. But when I arrived at Helsinki Airport, I received another call from the director now saying that they no longer needed my services as I have travelled from Kenya under unclear circumstances. I was helpless, I couldn’t even hold myself as the official directed me to contact my USA-based manager,’’ said Chemos.

“It was a horrible experience to say the least. I didn’t have any cash with me but after two days of hustle at the airport the manager came to my rescue; he bought the air ticket for me and flew back.”

Chemos had contemplated quitting the national team but after a sudden change of heart he decided to join the team’s training camp at Kasarani.

“I even wanted quit the national team upon arrival, but after consulting widely I just decided to go to camp. I don’t know which official wrote the letter but it seems somebody at the federation was desperate to spoil the move for me,” said Chemos.

“I was only to go there, negotiate and if possible sign the deal, then come back. But that is now behind me. The earliest I can get another foreign club’s invite is next year. At the moment, I am focusing on helping the team perform well in the African Nations Cup. God’s timing is always the best.”

But when contacted, KVF chairman Waithaka Kioni absolved his federation from the blame, accusing the player for neglecting the rules.  

“The transfer rules are very clear and must be followed. We have players who have been entering into private arrangement with foreign clubs without the consent of their mother club and federation of origin,” said Kioni.

“Chemos’ issue is the best example and this is not the first time he is doing this. Chemos will only have himself to blame. I told him not to travel without presenting a clearance letter from his employer, but he ignored. I remember, last year, he left us in trouble with his employer (Prisons) when he travelled without their clearance. Prisons termed him as a deserter and once his contract expired abroad, they refused to take him back as an employee, but instead allowed him to play for the team on private arrangements.

“For any player to go to play abroad, he/she must be cleared by the mother club which then advices the mother federation. Once this is done, the mother federation gets a request from the receiving federation asking mother federation to activate the request,” he further explained.

Kenya Prisons Secretary David Kilundo weighed into the matter saying either delayed or lack of proper communication between the involved parties caused the snag.

“It’s unfortunate this happened. There was some lack or delay of communication between the parties involved including the federation. But I think all is not lost, let him finish national duties who knows he might better clubs during African Cup of Nations,” said Kilundo.

“This is a different case from last year’s incident. He was suspended for being absent from duty, but he is still our player and the process to reinstate him is at an advanced stage. “

Asked to comment on the issue, Kenya Prisons chairperson Rose Muturi who also doubles up as KVF Vice President (Gender and Minority) said she is not aware of the matter. She then referred the writer to the Kenya Prisons Commissioner General.

“I am not aware. It is strange to me. Moreso, it is not in my preserve to comment on such administrative issue. Please, contact my boss-The Commissioner General,” said Muturi.


Name: Michael Chemos

Nationality: Kenyan

D.O.B: 12/11/1990

Height: 200cm (6ft 6in)

Weight: 92kg (202lb)

Current Club: Prisons Kenya

Previous Clubs: Raision Loimun (Finland), Al Arabi (Qatar), Riento (Finland), Kahramanmara? Büyük?ehir Belediyespor Voleybol (Turkey), Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler (Japan)

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