PtG Article 19.01.2007

FIFA and Kenyan minister fight over legitimate leadership of football federation

Who is in charge of football in Kenya? Well, the answer differs depending on who you ask. FIFA has just backed the Kenyan Football Federation (KFF) and its attempts to re-launch a national league. Kenya’s sports minister on the other hand refuses to have anything to do with KFF officials and KFF has also been renounced by twelve of its own branches.

The battle between Kenya’s sports minister Maina Kamanda and the Kenyan Football Federation has ebbed and flowed since November last year. Here the minister declared that he had dissolved the KFF only to see the High Court in Kenya overturn his decision and reinstate the KFF officials.

That has not stopped Kamanda and over the past few weeks the fight has intensified. Last week he declared that as far as the government was concerned there is no KFF in existence. And this week he said he would never share a table with KFF officials or support the organisation financially until the courts had cleared them of corruption charges.

The sports minister was referring to the so-called Nyamweya report published in August last year. According to reports in the Kenya Times the report said that some KFF officials had misappropriated millions of shilling and the federation was run like an individual’s kiosk.

To make matters even more confusing, the same report also alleged that the Ministry of Sports, Cultural and Social Services itself had irregularly purchased plane tickets for football players and paid KFF delegates without following the rules. And to top the confusion, the website reports that the Nyamweya report has recently been discredited and that FIFA is considering its own audit to “uncover mass looting that took place during Nyamweya’s tenure at the Kenya Football Federation.” 

Re-instatement depends on government behaviour

Regardless of allegations of corruption, it remains a fact that FIFA held a meeting with KFF officials this week to discuss the terms on which FIFA would lift its suspension of Kenya from international football.

On this occasion FIFA encouraged all Kenyan clubs to register with the FIFA-recognised leadership of the KFF by the 21 January deadline to ensure the re-launch of a national league that adhere to FIFA’s principles and regulations.

In a statement about the meeting, FIFA also complained about the “systematic obstruction of progress by the Ministry of Sport”:

“Government interference such as instigating lawsuits in civil courts, the creation of unconstitutional committees and the blocking of access to Goal facilities must come to and end before Kenyan football can realistically re-enter the international football community,” the statement reads. 

Branches want KFF officials to step aside

FIFA support notwithstanding, the KFF is also under attack from twelve of its own branches.

According to the newspaper East African Standard, the branches say that the national executive committee is not up to the task of running KFF. The branch officials accuse the KFF officials of “collective and individual dereliction of duty leading to polarised relations with the government and FIFA.” They also accuse the executive of a manifest lack of accountability and transparency.

The branches want KFF officials to step aside and convene a special general meeting to allow branches to table their resolutions and pave the way for a normalisation committee.