Football mourns tragic death of Hussein Swaleh in ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane

By Odindo Ayieko: Monday, March 11th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Hussein Swaleh [Courtesy]

Football fraternity is in mourning following the tragic death of renowned sports administrator Hussein Swaleh in the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane from Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Swaleh was on his way home from Cairo where he was the Commissioner of a Caf Champions League match between Egyptian side Ismailia and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo played on Friday.

FKF president led heartfelt condolences for the man, who was once the Secretary General of Kenya Football Federation (KFF), the pre-cursor of the current local football association.

“Sad day for football. You were doing what you loved most. Fare thee well my chairman. Until we meet again,” Mwendwa tweeted shortly after confirming Swaleh was aboard the Ethiopia Airline’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane.

Immediate former FKF president Sam Nyamweya said Swaleh’s death difficult to take.

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“I am the one who brought him to football because of his enthusiasm and the love of the game. It is really sad that he left us at this moment and in the manner it happened. I wish his family, friends and football community God’s strength as we seek to deal with this huge loss,” Nyamweya said.

FKF NEC member for Easter Muriithi Nabea described Swaleh as an energetic and experienced administrator.

“No words will describe the loss and the gap he leaves in both local and international football.

 According to a statement from the airline, all 157 people on board died, among them 32 Kenyans.

The airline added that there were 33 different nationalities on board.

Swaleh served as Kenya Football Federation secretary general between 2000 and 2004, a period in which the federation went through a torrid period with Fifa and the Kenyan government.

Severally, the government would interfere with the running of the game attracting sanctions from Fifa.

Swaleh was initially elected as Deputy Secretary of the federation with Maina Kariuki as president.

However, when the then secretary Dan Murunga was suspended, Swaleh was elevated to the position.

It is during this period that Kenya also qualified to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004 in Tunisia and went on to register her first win at that stage beating Burkina Faso 3-0.

This is the tournament that announced the arrival of star striker Dennis Oliech.

Swaleh would play a pivotal role in taking Oliech to Qatar where he joined Al Arabi before moving to France to play for Nantes

Earlier in 2003, Swaleh was banned from all foot all activities for three years by Caf for bringing the game into disrepute.

During his reign, Caf also banned Kenya from all African youth competitions for a period of two years after the national U17 team was found to have fielded players who were over 20 years of age.

This was the biggest age cheating scandal in Kenyan football, the players involved insisted FKF’s forerunner, KFF officials were aware of their real ages and played an active role in falsifying documents.

 But Swaleh would have the ban lifted and he continued serving as a Caf match commissar until his tragic death yesterday.