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Sh100m for artistes leave football players in tears

FOOTBALL By Robin Toskin | May 13th 2020
Gor Mahia Kenneth Muguna(left) battle for ball possession against Boniface Mukhekhe of AFC Leopards during their KPL Derby at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday 08/03/2020. Gor won 1-0.[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

President Uhuru’s March 8 promise yet to materialise as players feel landlords’ wrath.

The launch of Sh100 million package for Kenyan artists, actors and musicians on Monday has left a bitter taste in the mouth of footballers.

Sports, Culture and Heritage CS Amina Mohamed on Monday made good on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promise for artistes by releasing the funds to cushion them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several Kenyan Premier League players have called Standard Sports lamenting that almost nine weeks since President Kenyatta’s pledged to support them from the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund nothing had been forthcoming.

“Lucky for them artists and musicians. As for me, I don’t know where I will go from here because the landlord has issued an ultimatum that I pay the rent arrears or I leave. I am taking care of my sick mother and don’t know what I will do should we be thrown out,” the KPL player residing in Pangani area, Nairobi, told Standard Sports yesterday.

“When we read of the President Kemyatta’s pledge we knew the promise would be fast-tracked, but the wait is now turning into anguish,” the attacking midfielder of the Nairobi-based KPL club said.

Apart from the Sh5,000 per player-intervention from betting company, Betika, channeled via the Sports Ministry to top and second tier leagues players, the KPL clubs are still waiting for manna from the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund.

It is estimated the Fund has received at least Sh27 billion from the gaming firms since September 2018 to early this year mostly generated from football betting.

The Fund initially intended to finance the sports sector has since been taken over by The Treasury and renamed Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund. Following the takeover, Treasury which now holds the yam and the knife, has reallocated over two-thirds of the revenue to non-sports sectors.

Footballers now have to wait for crumbs dropping off the table even after toiling week-in week-out generating the betting revenue for taxation.

The Sports Ministry has put together a stimulus programme proposal where 1,530 athletes (145 or 9.5 per cent of them football players) drawn only from the various national teams will benefit from the windfall. Each of the 1,530 athletes will get Sh20,000 monthly for three months effective from April 1.

This number excludes KPL players, who Standard Sports understands the Sports Ministry has already received their names and modalities are being worked to pave way for disbursements to their mobile phones.

Last week, the Sports Ministry dispatched 68 parcels of food each worth Sh3,000 to feed disadvantaged athletes in Eldoret with Sh10,000 expected to be sent directly to the mobile phones of the 1,530 athletes.

However, a KPL club chairman who did not wish to be named, took issue with the manner the money generated through football betting had been diverted to other activities instead of helping the players.

“The money is generated through football betting yet from these projections the 145 footballers will get less that Sh15 million from the estimated Sh91 million. So where is the Sports Fund in all this token “generosity”? And where are the majority of now desperate KPL clubs and players?” a KPL club chairman posed.

Another club chairman lamented: “The players have been thrown out of their houses. We had thought the Sports Fund would come in handy. Instead, it is the artists who have been bailed out first. Nobody sees the urgency in our players’ suffering despite being their sweat that generated these funds.”

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