Stop Kenyan football's plunge into the abyss

Harambee Stars players during training at Nyayo Stadium last year. [File, Standard]

It's no secret. Kenyans have an unbridled love for football. That is why they flock to entertainment joints across the country to enjoy football, especially the English Premier League.

This was evident on Sunday when Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-2 to defend the English Premier League title.

But locally, there is nothing to write home about. Nothing. Our football is on the deathbed. On Monday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) dropped Harambee Stars from the 2023 African Cup Nations qualifiers following the suspension by the world football governing body, Fifa, over government interference in the running of the sport.

Fifa gave Kenya conditions to be welcomed back—reinstatement of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and disbandment of the Caretaker Committee. The government did nothing.

CAF wrote on their website: “As a consequence of having failed to have their suspensions by Fifa set aside, Caf has confirmed that both Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers."

That was sad news to our football-loving nation, which is at 102 in the Fifa rankings. The suspension came shortly before the World Cup trophy lands in Nairobi today. So sad that Kenyans will catch a glimpse of the trophy when they cannot compete or participate in any international football event.

Kenya was to face Cameroon on June 4. Group C now has Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi, whose top two finishers will play in the Ivory Coast tournament.

It is sad for our players to miss out on such an opportunity as it limits their growth and chances of participating in such high-profile tournaments.

So far, no Kenyan team will play in next year’s CAF Champions League or Confederation Cup and no Kenyan referee will have the pleasure of being appointed to officiate in any international tournament. What a waste of the huge potential we have as a nation. We need to save our beautiful game.

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