Mwendwa pleads with Uhuru to save Qatar WC dream
Effective March 24, 2020, another countdown begun towards yet another deadline to pay former Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche his Sh. 109 million, that Football Kenya Federation (FKF) owes him.
This follows the directive by world football governing body FIFA, whose Disciplinary Committee granted FKF more 30 days to clear the debt, failure to which sanctions not limited to ban from participating in 2021 World Cup qualifiers could be declared against Kenya.
Regrettably, the justifiably beleaguered federation with issues ranging from debts to twice cancelled elections, FIFA has increased the penalty with Sh. 4 million pegged on the committee’s meetings in the arbitration process.
This, poignantly, is as a result to failure to meet the initially set deadline of March 11, 2020, which was arrived at following FKF’s request for an extension of the window to pay from yet another failed ultimatum.
In the conversation of the deadlines not met, FKF president Nick Mwendwa has been clear the federation has no money to pay Amrouche, pleading with the Government through Ministry of Sports to settle the penalty which he insists is part of the many inherited woes from the former regime.
“We now have up to April 23 to pay, failure to which we are out of Qatar 2021 World Cup. I have said we would not want our players to lose out on such an opportunity because of 100 million. I have therefore once again requested the Government to pay because we don’t have any other source.
“The grants we get from FIFA cannot be diverted here, they (FIFA) can’t allow to be used for this kind of a debt…” told Mwendwa.
He says, although the Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amb. Amina Mohammed recently said the Government was not to pay Amrouche, the federation has nowhere else to turn to.
“Nyamweya and his team brought us to this. I have gone to CAS for four years trying to challenge the awarding of such a big amount. Now it has come a time we must move forward. That’s why I have requested CS Amina to take this to the President (Uhuru Kenyatta) as we will have to handle this once and for all. The question I would gladly answer is what measures have we put in place to ensure we are not in such a situation in future. Importantly, we are not going to have coaches with closed contracts so that if terminated for a reason they seek compensation,” averred Mwendwa, pointing out all the coaches hired and left in his tenure are at peace with the federation.
Stanley Okumbi, Belgian Paul Putt and Frenchman Sebastien Migne have all worked for Stars under Mwendwa, with none staying to the expiry of their contracts.
So where exactly did the rain start beating the federation as far as the coaches debts are concerned?
In February 2013, FKF, under former president Sam Nyamweya, appointed Amrouche as Harambee Stars coach on a one-year contract. In December, the same year, Nyamweya handed Amrouche an improved 5-year contract effective January 2014 after Harambee Stars won the 2013 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Eight months later, Nyamweya terminated Amrouche’s contract after he was suspended by CAF for unsporting conduct against Comoros coach. It was this termination that would be later found wrongful hence the penalty by FIFA.
In August 2014, Nyamweya appointed Scott Bobby Williamson to replace Amrouche, with the contracts of the two by fact putting the federation in a situation where both could claim remuneration.
Importantly, the move to hire Williamson who had initially coached Uganda Cranes, was to mitigate the challenge of operating without a coach as Amrouche was serving his ban. However, the question of the latter’s long contract was not negotiated.
In February 2016, Mwendwa under the movement of Team Change ousted Nyamweya from office through the ballot, and coincidentally, CAF also lifted Amrouche’s six ban.
Just a month into his tenure, both Amrouche and Williamson claimed to have running contracts with FKF, the former citing five years while the latter’s was an open one. It was at this point in April 2016 that Amrouche filed a case at the FIFA Player Status Committee demanding compensation for wrongful dismissal.
In August 2017, FIFA communicated the decision of the Players Status Committee to award him Amrouche Sh. 65 million plus the interest that had accrued since July 2014.
But Amrouche did not stop there. In September 2017, he appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as he was not satisfied with the amount that was awarded to him by FIFA’s Players Status Committee. In response, FKF also filed a petition at CAS contesting the amount awarded to Amrouche.
In September 2019, CAS ruled on the matter, awarding the Algerian-born-Belgian Sh.108,194,863 in compensation for wrongful dismissal. FKF had basically lost the case. CAS in addition directed FKF to pay a further Sh.1,181,511, bringing the whole amount to a total of 109,376,374.
On February 28, this year, FIFA Disciplinary Committee writes to FKF instructing them to pay the amount owed to Amrouche or risk sanctions, as nothing had been paid yet. FKF requested FIFA for more time to settle the payment on March 3, and were granted six days two days later to clear the penalty.
With FKF still unable to pay and having sought more extension, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee directs on Tuesday gave the one month directive.
The above sequence of events notwithstanding, Nyamweya insists he is not responsible for the current afflictions engulfing FKF.
“We are not responsible. My office was not responsible. Nick Mwendwa should be sued, he should personally pay Amrouche from his pocket,” stated Nyamweya, who is also challenging for a comeback into the federation.
Amrouche is now the head coach of Botswana national football team, and is on record saying he wants his one off payment, and in full.