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What Fifa ban would mean to Kenya, Harambee Stars players

FOOTBALL By Killiad Sinide | November 18th 2021
AFC Leopards FC Fans reacts after loosing to Gor Mahia FC at Kasarani Stadium on Saturday 9, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

All eyes are on Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed as she meets with Fifa officials over the disbandment of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

On November 11, the CS sent FKF president Nick Mwendwa, CEO Barry Otieno and other FKF officials packing over allegations of misappropriation of funds at Kandanda House.

She at the same time formed a caretaker committee led by former judge Aaron Ringera to steer the wheel at the federation for six months.

Amina also formed a secretariat to help in operations at the football body.

But world football governing body Fifa, while writing to FKF, warned the Cabinet Secretary of a ban imposed by it if her decision was to be upheld.

“It is up to Fifa alone, on the basis of serious and well-founded information as well as under exceptional circumstances, to order the dismissal of executive bodies of member associations followed by the appointment of a normalization committee.” Read the statement in part.

Fifa also opened room for a meeting with the embattled federation officials and Sports Ministry to address concerns raised by the parties. Fifa Secretary General, Fatma Samoura further asked the Sports CS to reinstate all suspended FKF officials in a succeeding communique addressed to her on November 14.

“I must highlight that the appointment of the so-called “caretaker committee” by your office is undoubtedly contrary to our principles according to which all of our member associations, including FKF, are required to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence of any third parties,” part of the letter read.

“The situation could, therefore, potentially lead to a suspension of the FKF by Fifa and in such a case, it would be all of Kenyan football that would suffer the consequences.”

Various stakeholders of the game have backed the dissolution of the football body in the country. Kenya Football Referees Association secretary-general GMT Otieno said Kenya has nothing to lose with Fifa ban.

“We need to see how we can rebuild our football and if we are to be banned, so be it,” he said in an interview on KTN News.

With all said and done, what would a Fifa ban mean to Kenyan football?

Kenya will be unable to participate in international matches organised by Fifa. For instance, if the ban was effected immediately, Tusker FC and Gor Mahia will not play their scheduled Confederation of African Football (CAF) fixtures against CS Sfaxien and Otoho d’Oyo respectively.

Harambee Starlets also risk missing their 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers against Uganda, Eritrea and Djibouti.

Footballers are the biggest casualties of a Fifa ban on any association according to Sports lawyer Raphael Omala. First, they are limited to playing local fixtures only.

The ban also restricts the international transfer of players as players need an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) to move from one football association to another.

“This certificate is useless if Fifa does not recognise the federation because they regulate the process,” said Omala.

Kenyans playing in foreign countries can still renew contracts with their respective clubs, they, however, cannot move to another country if their contract expires when the ban is in effect.

Football clubs also are risk losing potential revenue accrued from participating in international fixtures.

For instance, Kenya clubs could miss out on the Sh56 million awarded to teams who qualify for the group stages of the CAF Champions League.

The Fifa sanction will also prevent Kenyan referees from officiating in international fixtures and participating in seminars organised by the body.

Furthermore, the country will lack representation in regional and international conventions and no Kenyan will be legible to contest for any post in Fifa bodies internationally.

Since the ban mostly touches on international fixtures organised by Fifa, the federation in place can still oversee the management of local leagues.

“Fifa will not invalidate the results once the ban is lifted, but expect no grants or any other kind of technical and infrastructural support whatsoever from the international federation,” said Omala.


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