Confusion reigns in Kenyan football as parallel meetings fail to resolve the split
24.05.2007By Marie V. Thesbjerg
Two factions of the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) held parallel annual general meetings on Saturday in Malindi and in the capital Nairobi and issued their own recommendations on how they will run Kenyan football.
The KFF meeting in Malindi was backed by FIFA and attended by FIFA observers. 123 delegates from 14 branches voted and endorsed Mohammed Hatimy as chairman, Titus Kasuve as vice-chairman and Sammy Obingo as secretary. A total of 123 delegates out of the maximum 176 drawn from the 16 KFF branches attended the annual general meeting. Only two branches, Western and Nairobi, failed to send officials.
"You have shown that you have the interest of developing soccer in the country and FIFA will continue supporting you," FIFA's development officer Ashford Mamelodi said in the Kenyan newspaper The Nation.
The delegates also suspended for two years Peter Ochiel, the chairman of a KFF caretaker committee that is fighting with the federation for control of the game in the country. Others suspended for two years were: Benson Muli, Elly Mukolwe, Bernard Musuku, Martin Kievia, Elijah Onsika, Joseph Korir and Peter Gathogo.
Shabana chairman Sam Nyamweya, who has been a key opponent of the KFF, received an indefinite ban with delegates accusing him of causing problems in Kenyan football. Five of the suspended officials are members of the rival government-backed KFF caretaker committee.
The rightful holders of football in Kenya
After the rival group’s Annual General meeting, it pressed that it is still in charge of football in the country.
"We have chosen to ignore what is happening in Malindi because it is an illegal meeting," said chairman Ochiel to BBC Sport. "We are the rightful holders in the office to run football."
93 delegates attended the meeting with thirteen apologies. Branches represented include Nyanza South, North Rift, Aberdare, Nyanza West, Nyanza South, Southern, Central Rift, North Eastern, North Western, South Rift, Nyanza North, Mt. Kenya, Eastern, Nairobi, Coast and Western according to Kenya Times.
Ochiel claims his interim committee is legally in office because it has been registered by the Registrars Society.
"The Hatimy group has not been registered," Ochiel told BBC Sport.
"They are operating illegally and we wonder why the long arm of the law has not caught up with them. The Hatimy meeting is illegal and we have informed the police. We have asked them to arrest anybody who attends that meeting." In addition, Ochiel accused FIFA of interfering in the running of Kenyan football, saying the ruling body was not supposed 'to micromanage us'.
FIFA ready with another ban on Kenya
FIFA’s patience with Kenyan football is being tested. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has warned that Kenya face a ban, if the government does not stop interfering in football. FIFA’s Executive Committee meets in Zurich on May 30-31, and will decide on Kenya’s future.
The country has been banned twice in the last three years for governmental interference in football and faces a similar punishment again.
Sports Commissioner Gordon Olouch has denied that the government has been interfering with football in the country while at the same time taking sides, writes The Nation.
"We have not interfered with the running of football in the country. But, yes, we support the KFF caretaker committee,” he said.
"We know the sports minister is not happy with my committee because we have been recognised by FIFA," said Hatimy. "He should know that if they continue interfering, we will be banned again by FIFA."
Kenya was suspended from international football in November 2006 because of a failure to fulfil a 28-point agreement reached in Cairo 2006, which called mainly for the struggle of parallel bodies managing the football. The ban was lifted in March 2007 after an intervention by the Confederation of African Football, which had sent two top officials to Kenya to mediate in the row.
FIFA's development officer Ashford Mamelodi said after the Malindra AGM that Kenya will not be suspended since genuine delegates turned up for the meeting, in accordance with FIFA's desires promising to fulfil the Cairo agreement.
The AGM was part of FIFA's road map for the normalization of football in Kenya.
The next step involves the amendment of the KFF constitution before a fresh election is held.