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FKF or KPL? Who has the mandate to declare Kenyan champions?

Last updated 1 month ago | By Robert Abong'o and Robin Toskin

Football Kenya Football (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa (in Blue) reacts during the hearing of a case challenging several aspects of the electoral code of the Football Kenya Federation Electoral board at the Nairobi law courts on February 25, 2020. [Photo/Stafford Ondego/Standard]

The Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) will on September 15 deliver a verdict as to who between the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) has the mandate to declare the Kenyan champions.

This follows a hearing via teleconferencing where KPL argued that Nick Mwendwa lacks the veto power to end the premier season, neither can he name the winner nor relegate any of the teams in the top-tier league.

KPL represented by lawyer Amos Otieno said the MOU signed in 2015 empowers the league body to run the competition unhindered. Otieno said Mwendwa erred by invoking the force majeure clause as such a decision required that the MOU be taken into consideration.

FKF lawyers Senior Counsel Tom Ojienda and Victor Omwebu argued that the COVID-19 pandemic had rendered impractical to complete the season and hence the decision to end it. The counsels also stated that a CAF letter meant that FKF needed to submit the name of the league champions as a matter of urgency.

KPL Ltd and relegation-threatened Chemelil Sugar went to the Sports Tribunal in May seeking an interpretation as to whether Mwendwa or FKF had the power to end the league and declare a champion and relegate others — a function they argue is bestowed on them vide an MOU signed in 2015.

FKF, which has had its election exercise canceled twice by the SDT for violating Fifa Statutes, the Kenya Constitution, and its own Constitution has not had a National Executive Committee after their term expired on February 10.

Despite an SDT ruling dated January 10, 2017, that placed an injunction against FKF from interfering with the running of the league until September 24 this year, Mwendwa rubbed KPL the wrong way when he ‘ended’ the football season citing the inconvenience of Government and Health Ministry curfew measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tweet on April 30 at 12:28 pm read: “Ooh and Congratulations Gor Mahia! You are champions once again and you will represent Kenya on the champions league next season.”  He added: “Nairobi City Stars!! Welcome to the Premier League.”

KPL, citing the SDT ruling on March 17 that declared the term of office of the FKF National Executive Committee was at an end, said Mwendwa had no powers to make such a decision in the absence of the NEC.

Sports Disputes Tribunal chairman Ohaga presides over a case where the Sports Dispute Tribunal is sitting to determine a conflict between Football Kenya Federation and Sports Registrar at Milimani Law courts on February 25, 2020. Photo/Stafford Ondego, [Standard]

After a preliminary objection by FKF lawyers and a group of clubs allied to FKF was quashed and an eyebrow-raising attempt by Chemelil Sugar FC to withdraw the case, the hearing will go on today by way of video conferencing.

A KPL official, who did not wish to be named told Standard Sports yesterday that, “Chemelil’s attempt to withdraw their case, which effectively they have no problem even if they were relegated, does not affect the KPL case at all.”

“We stand by our earlier position which we sent to the SDT for interpretation,” he said.

At the time of Mwendwa’s tweet, KPL CEO Jack Oguda said: “There are procedures to be followed during such extra-ordinary situations. When you look at that MOU, there is Joint Executive Committee (JEC) comprising of FKF president, two NEC members, KPL chairman and two KPL members supposed to address such issues.”

He added: “But since the SDT declared NEC’s term over the FKF Secretariat should wait for the KPL’s decision on the league’s status. FKF cannot impose a decision on us when there is an MOU between KPL and FKF in place.”

FKF had reasoned at the time that Rule of the Rules and Regulations of Kenyan Football stipulate that: “Where the league format due to circumstances of force majeure fails to be completed within the season, the league winner shall be determined as follows; Where all the Clubs in the league have completed the first round fixture but less than 75% league games have been played, the table standings at the end of the first round shall be considered as the final table standings of the league.”

The hearing comes against a backdrop of an SDT ruling on September 2 on powers Mwendwa can exercise pending elections.

The SDT concluded: “The Office of the President of FKF is not synonymous with the National Executive Committee and the same should be constituted in line with the relevant Articles of the FKF Constitution and in adherence with the decision of this Tribunal dated 17th March 2020 to enable the FKF to hold meetings in line with the FKF Constitution.”

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