PtG Article 30.05.2008

Kenya's world cup hopes in danger after fight over federation

In 2010, FIFA’s football World Cup will take place in Africa for the first time ever. All African nations have their hearts set on sending a team to South Africa, but over the past two weeks Kenya has come perilously close to losing the chance to qualify for the event after a group of  former football officials has tried to overthrow the leadership of the Kenyan Football Federation (KFF).

Kenyan national football team prior to their match with swaziland in March 2007. Photo (c) taken by Tom Maruko (ActionPixs) and uploaded under a Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

The administration of  KFF has a troubled history, and chaos broke out once more two weeks ago after Sam Nyamweya, a former KFF secretary filed a suit in court seeking the removal of KFF’s elected president Mohamed Hatimy. A high court judge ruled in favour of the petition and thereby stopped the elected KFF officials from handling football affairs in the country.

The response from the international football federation, FIFA, was swift. It rejects all attempts by governments or judicial systems to interfere in the internal affairs of a member federation, and it immediately gave Kenya’s government 72 hours to sort out the mess or risk being banned from taking part in the world cup qualifications. A scenario that would be an absolute nightmare for Kenyan football fans.

According to newspapers in Kenya, the country’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the newly appointed Minister of Sport, Hellen Sambili, have pleaded with FIFA to give them more time to solve the problems.

The request has been granted as FIFA’s Executive Committee decided not to carry out its threats when it met in Australia last week. This means that Kenya can send its national team to the first world cup qualifying match in Namibia.

Government encouraged to end charade

In Kenya, the national executive committee of the privately owned Kenya Premier League (KPL) is also applying pressure on Kenya’s government to end what they call “the charade perpetuated by Sam Nyamweya and his few associates who claim to be elected officials of the Kenya Football Federation (KFF)”.

The KPL is set up to rid football in Kenya from corruption and undemocratic practices, and together with the Kenyan Football Referees  Association, the KPL has sent a statement to the media  (click here to read) that explains how Nyamweya misinformed the judge when he argued that the election of the KFF leadership had been illegal. The statement also explains that Sam Naemweya was expelled from KFF at the Annual General Meeting in Malindi in May last year.

“Sam Nyamweya has already mismanaged and killed the Shabana Football club which declined and and collapsed under his chairmanship. He must not be allowed to kil Kenyan football as well,” the statement reads.

The KPL and the referees association worry about the consequences if FIFA bans the country from taking part in the qualifying matches for the World Cup because of Nyamweya’s actions.

“That will not only kill the careers and dreams of many talented players and the hopes of millions of fans, it will also seriously damage the international sporting reputation of the country.”  

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