BWANA: AFC lucky to have fielded more foreigners against an equally ‘foreign’ Sofapaka
By Tom Bwana for Citizen Digital
As Ingwe fans smiled from ear to ear inebriated in celebration of the heroic exploits of striker turned-keeper Karim Ndungwa standing in for the on-strike goalkeepers; saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet, my twitter handle (@TomBwana) was blazing with notifications after notifications of unprintables after I pointed out that AFC Leopards had fielded illegal players against Sofapaka for their last match of the first leg.
I don’t know why people abhor the truth. Well, rules are rules. Unless they are respected there’s no point shouting from rooftops at the corruption allegations surrounding FIFA, FKF and the general scum around the once beautiful game.
AFC Leopards, despite reports that their players were on strike demanding unpaid dues, inexplicably and miraculously managed to raise some fourteen men – six of whom were foreigners – to face Batoto ba Mungu an hour after the scheduled kickoff.
You see, the law is an ass and as such does not have mercy on even the lamest excuse of having been financially handicapped hence the incapacity to raise the requisite squad to face an opponent.
The truth is that AFC Leopards fielded six foreign players as opposed to the KPL regulation that allow up to a maximum of five foreigners in the match day squad.
Yes, there’s that misty window allowing certain clubs to sign up to seven foreigners but the match day regulation specifies that a club shall field a maximum of five foreigners in its squad.
Against Sofapaka on Sunday 7th June, the limping Leopards fielded Karim Ndungwa (Uganda), Musa Mudde (Uganda), Lamine Diallo (Ivory Coast), Martin Kiiza (Uganda), Fredrick Ndaaka (Uganda) and Emannuel Ngama (Burundi).
So what are the consequences to this? Well, the aggrieved party – Sofapaka in this case – can lodge complaints with the league body and get the Leopards docked the three points for Batoto ba Mungu to gain. But there are two challenges to that.
Dealing with foreign cap size
One, the matter should have been raised at the pre-match with the match commissar and show that Sofapaka actually went ahead to play the match but under duress. But even if the complaint was not raised before the match, it is clear that there was an infringement on the rules and the law has to act.
The other challenge is that this case is weakened by the supposed complainant. Sofapaka squad in itself looks too foreign for the club to even think of complaining about some negligible six foreigners in the opposing team. Their match-day squad had eight non Kenyan names. You see, Sofapaka’s foreign legion is so confusing you never know who holds a foreign passport and who is on refugee status. It’s that difficult.
The upshot is that as a league, a top league in the region, we need to deal with this foreign cap issue once and for all to avoid its never-ending recurrence. Is the East African Community accord on labor laws in place? Do we treat EAC citizens as foreigners? Is the labor sourced from the bloc regarded as foreign labor?
The point is, the EAC proposal to abolish passport and work permit requirements have not been enacted by respective parliaments. While we all accuse the sluggish Tanzania as slowing down the EAC spirit, the mouthy Kenya hasn’t done much either. Our traders are still harassed by Ugandan authorities in Busia and Malaba border points.
But this is not in any way directed at absolving Ingwe of any wrong doing. Rules, until either changed or clarified by the KPL, must be followed to the letter if we are to retain our credibility and status as a top league in the region.
Bwana is a sports commentator. @TomBwana