Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa was yesterday grilled by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) that Kenya failed to host in 2018.
Kenya was expected to host the championships before the rights were stripped off in September 2017 due to “unpreparedness” after it lacked stadia readiness in time.
This was after a CAF inspection team reported that only two (Kasarani stadium and the Meru Kinoru stadium) of the four venues was ready to stage the tournament restricted to home-based footballers that a decision to kick Kenya out was made.
The 16-team tournament for locally-based players only, was scheduled to take place between January 12 and February 4, 2018.
It was expected that at least four stadiums should be complete before the beginning of the championships.
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“Yes, the championships did not happen due to lack of stadiums,” Mwendwa acknowledged.
He however said that he was aware of the requirements and recommendations by Caf and shared them with the ministry to act upon them and left it at that.
According to him, however, his office forwarded the request to the ministry after which the government communicated back and gave them an assurance that it was possible to cater to all the requirements set aside by Caf and that the country would be ready to host the event in the time required.
“If we were told the truth that it cannot happen then we would have looked for other ways or even contacted Caf for a way forward,” he said.
He added, “There was no time that the ministry said that they cannot execute what Caf had asked for,"
Mwendwa said that four stadiums were required with each obligated to have two training pitches ready before the tournaments began something that the country could not account for by the time Caf was coming for inspection to see the progress of the requirements.
“We all wanted the tournament to happen. We wanted all stadiums to be ready but there was no time. If you do not have even the training pitch alone, you cannot host the championships,” he said.
He, however, said he felt that he did all he could to ensure that the championships were hosted in Kenya but at some point, it was beyond his control.
“I feel I did very well for CHAN, sadly, it did not happen. We were told to either act up or it would be taken from us, and it was taken away,” he said.
Kenya missed the opportunity of being the second successive East African country to stage the CHAN after Rwanda in 2016.
This was however not the first time that Kenya was stripped of the rights to host a continental championship that would put the country on the map.
In 1996, an excited Kenya was stripped of the opportunity to host the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and was replaced by South Africa and banned from the next two editions of the tournament.
Mwendwa also distanced himself from the loss of funds that were meant for the competition arguing that the ministry took away all the financial matters from them.
“All we did was to tell the ministry what was needed. But we were not involved in anything. Be it the procurement draw ups or any requests,” Mwendwa said.
He also claimed that he was not involved in any procurement process or the transaction of any funds.