Do everything to avert a Fifa ban for Kenya's game

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba and AK President Jackson Tuwei at Maktaba Kuu during media briefing. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) is preparing an appeal to counter a court order that suspended its planned Annual General Meeting scheduled for March 16, this year.

The suspension was issued by the High Court in Mombasa after journalist Milton Nyakundi challenged the FKF AGM, citing some candidates not eligible for election as officials. The stalemate means FKF cannot hold elections now even as the football world governing body, Fifa, asks it to ignore the court order.

Fifa rules do not allow individual nations’ courts or governments to interfere with the leadership of federations. In 2022, Fifa banned Kenya from the game for nine months, which ruled the country out of the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The Ministry of Sports had disbanded FKF over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds. FKF President Nick Mwendwa and his team were blocked from entering their offices as they faced accusations of abuse of office. They were later cleared of the allegations and allowed back in office last year.

The federation is supposed to hold elections and get new office bearers. However, the current court order and other challenges are preventing a smooth transition, hence putting the country at risk of punishment by Fifa.

Kenya’s potential in footballing talent has never been in doubt. Kenyan fans also love the beautiful game and follow their local teams faithfully. Local companies have also put their money into the game, sponsoring tournaments, teams and awarding individual players in the various leagues.

There are also football academies nurturing young talents in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega and other counties. The academies have players from as young as under five years to under 17 years. They have qualified and passionate football coaches taking the youth through the rigours of the game.

The teams have also organised themselves into small leagues that are played during the year and winners awarded in December. Some teams get invited outside the country to play in tournaments and expose the young players to competition.

FKF officials, Ministry of Sports and all stakeholders must put their own interests aside and support the growth of football in Kenya. Financial misappropriation and favouritism must be eliminated from the game. Kenya should always seek to adhere to Fifa rules and avoid situations that put us at a risk of a ban.

In the past, some talented players have missed opportunities to play for well-paying clubs abroad because of matters out of their hands. This should never happen again. When Kenyan talents get exposed to various leagues, they help improve our nation’s footballing reputation and experience.

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