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Why Sofapaka players are no longer ‘Batoto ba Mungu’

FOOTBALL By Mireri Junior and John Wafula | November 30th 2018
Sofapaka players celebrate in a past match [Courtesy]

A discreet tax ‘clause’ introduced in the contract between players and Sofapaka FC behind their backs is causing jitters. Apparently, a number of players have left the team as a result of the deduction.

The deduction by the Elly Kalekwa owned-club is reported to have led to mass exodus of up to eight players, including former captain Mathias Kigonya, his goalkeeping counterpart Wycliffe Kasaya and midfielder Kevin Kimani.

The club, however, maintains that there is no hidden deduction as claimed by some of their former players and that what they deduct is statutory tax.

But the players are questioning what they consider the secretive manner in which the clause was introduced in the already existing contract with those demanding explanation on the deduction being told they could leave the club if they wished.

“We signed a binding contract, and so it does not make sense for someone to re-introduce a clause in an existing contract without your consent, even if it is money being remitted to KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority). The best thing the club could have done was to give the players a chance to renegotiate their contract if indeed they were genuine,” said one of the players who protested the move by the club.

A discreet tax ‘clause’ introduced in the contract between players and Sofapaka FC behind their backs is causing jitters [Courtesy]

Players like Kigonya, for example, were forced to terminate their contracts with the Batoto ba Bamungu club after it became apparent that the club was not willing to renegotiate. The Ugandan, who has since joined Kakamega Homeboyz, told The Nairobian that the deduction almost took the whole of his salary, making his life in the city unbearable.

“It was like you play and they take the money. You see the money on paper but not in your account. Life became tricky for me in Nairobi, especially as a foreigner,” he said.

The Nairobian has been informed that some of the players who opted to remain at the club are still contesting the move, with other rejecting their revised salaries.

“There are players who are yet to receive their salaries for almost five months now as a result of the stalemate,” a source said. Kalekwa has however dismissed the reports as rumours being peddled by players to tarnish the good name of the club

He insisted that they acted in good faith and that what the club deducts is a statutory tax from all the players which is lawful and legal.

He told The Nairobian that the club even invited KRA officials to enlighten the players why the taxation was necessary and how the deduction is done depending on an individual’s salary.

“There is a group of players who wanted to pay tax individually and those who wanted to pay through the club.  We are only complying with the law,” he said.

Explaining the reason why the club released so many players, Kalekwa said: “We wanted to bolster the squad with better players, so we released the players we felt we did not need. If someone feels that we released too many good players; that was not what Sofapaka thought.”

Kalekwa explained that Kigonya did not leave the club on his own volition, but was asked to leave for doing some ‘bad things’.

“Alifanyia club mambo mingi mabaya hata sitaki kusema kwa media (he did so many bad things to the club that I can’t reveal to the media) because he is a player and we don’t want to destroy his career. We terminated his contract over very many bad things...we, at Sofapaka, are very transparent baba!” Kalekwa claimed.

At the end of last season, claims of match-fixing emerged from various KPL sides, with some unnamed Sofapaka players being accused of betting on their matches to earn money.

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