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Zoo cage get tighter with omission from May 12 restart fixtures

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | May 7th 2021
Zoo Kericho players during a past FKF Premier League match. [Courtesy-Zoo FC]

Zoo Football Club’s dream of playing in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League anytime soon have been blown away after the federation released new fixtures for restart without including them yesterday.

The Kericho based club was on Tuesday relegated to the Division One league next season, ending their five year stay in the premier league.

This is after world football regulator FIFA ordered the expulsion of Zoo FC from the 2020/21 Kenya Premier League season after finding them responsible for what they referred to as “match manipulation”.

“The Fifa Disciplinary Committee finds the club Zoo FC responsible for activities related to manipulation of football matches and competitions.”

“The club is hereby expulsed from the Kenyan Premier League season 2020/21 as the date of notification of the present decision,” said Fifa Disciplinary Committee in a letter signed by its chairman Alejandro Piera.

However, Zoo FC has issued a statement following FIFA's decision to relegate the team to Division One League over alleged match-manipulation.

The club is protesting their innocence and asserting that they will appeal the decision at the Fifa appeals committee.

“We have since prepared our Appeal to the FIFA Appeals Committee under art. 56 FIFA Disciplinary Code which we shall soon file and are confident our appeal shall be successful.”

“We shall also seek a stay of execution of the said decision that will allow us to continue participating in the league. We assure you that we are prepared to exhaust all legal avenues to ensure this unfair decision is reversed including lodging any further or other appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports,” said the club.

Zoo are confident of using all the legal avenues to ensure the decision they termed unfair, is reversed, including lodging any further or other appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports. 

"Zoo leadership will within the next 10 days write to the football governing body to furnish them with the evidence which led to the execution of relegation ruling.

"We will in the next ten (10) days write to them to provide further particulars of their decision which we believe is based on the misguided legal concept of “strict liability,” the club said.

The events purportedly leading to the charge involved two of the then Kenyan Premier League matches.

The first match was played on January 27, 2019 and March 1, 2020 between Sofapaka and Wazito respectively both at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos.

“Fifa Integrity Department had investigated the issue and concluded that no individual was found guilty of match-fixing based on the evidence which was gathered. We therefore wondered how the decision to relegated them was reached.”

“In essence, it our belief that the Report was inadequate and its findings doubtful. We in fact called upon the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to review the facts and the evidence over and above the said Report.

Meanwhile, Zoo players are requesting the FKF to allow them to transfer to other clubs in the meantime as they await fate of the FIFA decisions.

A player who sought anonymity said they are worried about their future heading forward.

“Majority of players are uncertain about their lives. How are we going to feed our families, pay rent and progress our careers?”

“We need a solution and since none of us were mentioned to have been found guilty of any offense, we need to play. FKF should look into the future of the players too,” said the unmade player.

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