Fifa-Gov’t standoff dangerous for Kenyan football, ex-players warn

Former international players are worried that the stand-off between the government and world governing body FIFA could portend job losses for local players.

More than 1,000 players are currently featuring in the different tier leagues across the country and could be seriously affected should the country be banned by FIFA due to government interference.

FIFA has dismissed a ruling by the Sports Dispute Tribunal (SDT) for the formation of a normalization committee in Kenya.

Harambee Stars assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno said he is disappointed some officials don’t care about a possible ban on Kenya.

“The real stakeholders are coaches, players and referees as they directly earn from the game yet no one is listening to our concerns.

“If a FIFA ban comes, it is us who will be affected directly not those sitting in boardrooms,” he said.

Otieno popularly known as ‘Zico’ also heaped praise on the current Football Kenya Federation (FKF) administration led by Nick Mwendwa.

“I have worked with two previous administrations and I can say this office has done a lot and we must not throw away everything that has been achieved,” said Otieno.

AFC Leopards coach Antony Kimani said a ban will make an already bad situation worse.

“As it is, we are all already in a bad situation with no sponsors for the top league and clubs. Adding a ban onto it, will push away any sponsor who may be interested in taking up the league.”

Kimani also expressed fears that the recent strides made by local clubs at the continental level will disappear incase of a ban.

“In the last two years, Gor Mahia have done well qualifying for the group stages of Confederations Cup and giving several players good exposure. We risk throwing it all away if the country is banned,” he said.

With no international competitions, Kimani fears local players will have no avenue to showcase their talent as coaches will also lose out on opportunities for training.

“It will not matter who you are, a ban will have a devastating effect on the country and we cannot afford to go there at this point,” he said.

Former international goalkeeper Francis Onyiso said players will have nothing to play for if the country is banned from international football.

“With lack of international matches, the players will have no motivation at all to play football at the highest level. This will affect our standards,” he said.

Other former internationals who took the same stand are Peter Dawo, Boniface Ambani, Musa Otieno,Jerim Onyango, Bernard Mwalala, James Nandwa, Musa Otieno, Peter Dawo, Jeff Oyando, Nick Yakhama, John Barasa, Hillary Echesa, Tom Juma, Maurice Sunguti and Julius Owino.