EDITORIAL: Court cases, in-fights serve no good to Kenyan football
Kenya’s football is starring at an uncertain future in the backdrop of a dark shadow cast by the ruling of the Sports Disputes Tribunal which on Wednesday nullified the repeat FKF elections which had entered the Country level stage.
Last weekend, the polls were held at the county level with Nick Mwendwa’s loyalists’ running under ‘Team Blue’ – prevailing in the polls. In fact it was a procession for them as they faced little resistance sweeping the deck in nearly every county.
The electoral process was to culminate with National Elections primed for March 23 but which is now water under the bridge after the SDT, in its ruling, annulled the polls for the second time in less than six months.
When the Tribunal annulled the elections last year, it ruled that there was no public participation in the crafting of the electoral laws which were found to be punitive and meant to lock out potential challengers to the throne – real and imagined.
The Tribunal also railed at the federation for failing to follow the right procedure in the calling for its Special General Meeting back then.
In making the ruling, the SDT gave out explicit directives it wanted the federation to comply with in the repeat polls. And when they made the second ruling on Wednesday which annulled the polls for the second time, SDT Chairman John Ohaga found the federation to have complied with most of the directives: that the public participation on the 2020 Electoral Code did meet the constitutional threshold; Appeals Board proposed in the FKF Electoral Code met the threshold of independence and impartiality contemplated in Article 81 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
However the straw that broke the camel’s back was the ruling that the term of FKF’s National Executive Committee (the FKF top decision making organ) had come to an end and that the process towards the repeat elections are unlawful for non-compliance of Article 38 and 81 of Kenyan’s Constitution 2010 which upholds the Political rights of any Kenyan to campaign for a political party or cause, or to be a candidate for public office and to exercise those rights.
The SDT concluded by requesting world soccer governing body Fifa to appoint a Normalization Committee in the meantime for the purposes of holding the elections.
With the mandate of NEC having come to a screeching halt, it thus means that there is no NEC to guide the electoral process going forward hence the Tribunal’s request to Fifa.
Though Fifa is yet to formally react to the ruling, it remains unclear whether they will ‘accept’ the request or how they’ll handle the matter going forward, not forgetting they had given Kenya a March 30 deadline to conclude the elections.
Practically speaking, even the mandate of FKF President Nick Mwendwa, elected on a four-year mandate ¬ has elapsed but the polls fiasco and conundrum created by the ruling means he still hangs in office as a figurative head so as not to create a leadership lacuna.
This is not the first time that Kenya finds herself in such a catch 22-situation.
Past football wrangles more so in the period preceding 2004, between then Kenyan Football Federation (KFF) led by Sam Nyamweya and Football Kenya Limited) FKL) under Mohammed Hatimy – all fighting for the control of the heart and soul of our body football led to a Fifa ban in 2004 when the world football body suspended Kenya from all football activities for three months.
With endless wrangles, the then Narc regime stepped in to instill some order – aimed at cleaning the rot – which eventually attracted the wrath of the Zurich based entity.
Two years later, Kenya received its second FIFA ban – this time an indefinite one for failing to comply with FIFA rules.
The ban meant the country would not participate in any tournaments or competitions organized by FIFA until the requirements were met.
Fast forward, Fifa having exercised patience for so long even as we dragged the matter to court where the dirty linen were unfurled to the world, we risk drawing their wrath, again!
On the same vein, the Court of Arbitration for Sports(CAS), sitting in Lausanne , Switzerland had ruled that the Kenyan FA pay former Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche Sh106 million for wrongful dismissal.
The deadline of executing this order was March 11. Fifa was categorical that failure by Kenya to meet her end of the bargain would lead to Harambee Stars being kicked out of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Our prognosis: In the event that we are locked out of the qualifiers, Fifa will have no choice but to slap a ban! The two are like Siamese twins. It’s highly unlikely Kenya will be kicked out of the qualifiers without risking a ban, should Fifa choose this route.
A ban would mean that all our clubs, and all our football teams – men and women – will not be able to participate in any international football event. Our players will be barred from joining foreign clubs and our referees will not officiate any international match – be it at club or national level!
Amrouche’s matter, added to the Court case that has so far left a bitter test in the mouth of many a football fan will no doubt put the country in Fifa’s bad books.
In ruling that Fifa forms a Normalization Committee to guide the electoral process, a can of worms has been opened, similar to what happened in 2010, when then Sports Minister Dr Paul Otuoma appointed a seven-member board to steer Harambee Stars for two years.
The Board was chaired by Dr Evans Kidero, then a CEO of Mumias Sugar Company Limited.
Other members of that board were: Vimal Shah, Mugo Kibati, Jack Oguda, Gordon Oluoch, Stephen Isaboke and the then Kenya Rugby Union chairman Richard Omwela.
The major difference is that the then Board drew its powers and authority from the Government while the Normalization Committee is a product of a Court ruling.
For now it remains unclear which path our football shall take even as our fate hangs in the balance.
These are weighty matters and our call on the warring football camps: the Nick Mwendwa led axis and the Sam Nyamweya led wing to see sense and thrash out the sticky issues for football to move forward.
The two should not be guided by egos. No! This shouldn’t be an ego fight. The general good of our game should come first. What benefit does one derive for instance if the matters drag on no end in court whiles the game is at a standstill? Genuine football loving leaders are guided by the desire to take football to the next level but not shadow-boxing that adds no value to the life of the poor footballer?
While the current administration may have its teething problems, the era of Sam Nyamweya brought much pain, anguish and agony to our football. The wounds are yet to heal and it would serve no public good to have Mr. Nyamweya back at the helm.
Sanity should prevail failure to which history will offer its harsh judgment. We call on Fifa to move with haste; study the ruling and offer direction on the matter for our football to move forward.
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