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Zoo FC to challenge ruling by FIFA to relegate them from FKF Premier League

SPORTS By Standard Sports | May 4th 2021
Dominic Ouma (Left) of Zoo Kericho FC tussle for ball with Timothy Otieno of Sofapaka FC during their FKF-Premier League match at Kasarani Annex on February 10, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]


Zoo Kericho will appeal FIFA’s decision to relegate them from the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) league over match-fixing, the club said in a statement published on its official social media account.

The world governing body FIFA on Tuesday ordered the Kericho-based club to be evicted from the top tier after they were found guilty of “match manipulation”.

Fifa also ordered FKF to immediately relegate Zoo to FKF Division One League for the next season. Those are two divisions down the ranks.

“The Fifa Disciplinary Committee finds the club Zoo FC responsible for activities related to manipulation of football matches and competitions," Fifa wrote in a letter.

“The club is hereby expelled from the Kenyan Premier League season 2020/21 as of the date of notification of the present decision. The Committee also hereby orders the relegation of the first team of the club to the FKF Division One for next season.”

However, in a quick rejoinder, the club said they will appeal FIFA’s decision to expel them from the 2020/21 Football Kenya Federation Premier League.

“We were earlier this year charged with manipulation of football matches and competitions contrary to art. 18 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code on the basis of a report compiled by the Fifa Integrity,” read part of the statement.

“The events purportedly leading to the charge involve two of the then Kenyan Premier League matches, now known as the Football Kenya Federation Premier League. The first match was played on January 27, 2019, in Machakos between Sofapaka and Zoo and the second was played on March 1, 2020, between Wazito FC and Zoo.

“Thereafter, the Fifa Integrity Department opened a preliminary investigation into the football affairs of the club. In the course of conducting its said investigations, the Fifa Integrity Department interrogated a number of our current and former players and officials.

“It is fundamentally worth noting that at the conclusion of its report the department stated: “...Fifa integrity believes that there is not enough evidence to conclusively identify a single specific individual to be held as the sole responsibility of the manipulation of the matches under scrutiny, based on the available evidence [namely the performance analysis and intelligence information].”

“In essence, it is our belief 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.”

The statement continued: “This morning [Tuesday] we were however surprised to receive a communique from Fifa that unfortunately held us responsible for match manipulation pursuant to art. 8 FDC as read with art. 18 pars 1 and 2 Fifa Disciplinary Code and, eventually, the imposition of sanctions that basically relegated us to the Division One League in the 2021-22 Season.

“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”.

“We have since prepared our Appeal to the Fifa Appeals Committee under art. 56 Fifa Disciplinary Code which we shall soon file and we 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 another appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

“We thank you for your continued support and ask you to remain calm as we explore the aforestated.”

In January 2020, Zoo fired three players; Sammy Sindani, Norman Werunga, and Martin Elungat over match fixing allegations.

“I’m confident we’ll win this case. I’m not worried because they (Fifa) are saying the club is liable simply because we didn’t punish the players but what more could I have done?"

But FKF has since executed the Fifa order by expelling the club from the top tier, which is expected to resume soon.

“We are in receipt of correspondence from Fifa with regard to the ruling against your club on grounds of manipulation of football matches and competition. In view of the aforementioned, FKF has expulsed your club from the 2020/21 FKF Premier League season," said FKF.

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