Kenya team off to Ghana ahead of CHAN ‘judgment day’

By alex wafula
Sep 22, 2017
  • Construction at all the venues must be complete and ready for a dry run one month before the tournament kicks off in January. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • The body language of FKF President Nick Mwendwa and CAF Inspectors Head of Delegation Mohamed El Shawardy could be a warning sign of the decision in Accra. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Sports PS Kirimi Kaberia (left) leads the delegation to Accra. (Photo by Alex Wafula).

Ambassador Kirimi Kaberia, the Sports Principal Secretary will head the Kenyan delegation to Accra, Ghana, where the Confederation of African Football is expected to deliver its decision on whether or not Kenya will still host next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN).

Kirimi will be joined by Nick Mwendwa, the Football Kenya Federation boss and Event Director Herbert Mwachiro. The teamwas due to depart for Accra on Friday afternoon.

“We are hopeful that we will get a favorable decision from CAF. We are confident that we have shown enough commitment and the government has as well shown it is committed. But we can’t be overly confident again because we have to be realistic that there have been some challenges,” Mwachiro told Sports News Arena.

The CAF will have its Executive Committee meeting in Accra ahead of the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations final and the CHAN status is one of its top agendas.

Kenya’s build up to the meeting in Accra was buoyed on Thursday afternoon with the Presidency announcing that the cabinet has approved a budget of Sh4.2bn for the games.

“That is some good news and hopefully it shows the commitment that we have to host CHAN. Kenya wants to host this championship,” Mwachiro further said.

A CAF technical committee was in the country last week for a series of assessment tours across all the four venues.

During the tour, the Kasarani Stadium ticked most of the boxes because a huge part of the renovation exercise was done prior to July’s IAAF World Under-18 Championship.

Positive progress

There were some positive progress at the Nyayo National Stadium but the biggest concern was with Kinoru in Meru and Kipchoge Keino in Eldoret.

“There are challenges with those two stadia but the contractors are on ground and working round the clock to ensure that work goes on positively. Probably by end of November, both of those will be ready. Nyayo, we are quite happy with the work that is going on,” Mwendwa said.

CAF expects all venues to be complete for a full dry run at least one month to the championship. Technically, by December 12, everything should be competition ready.

FKF and the LOC expect Nyayo to be ready by the end of October while Kinoru and Kip Keino have a November target.

Meanwhile, while the country thinks of whether or not CAF will give its nod of approval to Kenya, the local football scene has received a big jolt.

On Thursday, a High Court sitting in Nairobi ruled that the current 18-team Kenyan Premier League should be annulled.

The ruling in a case presented by former FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya stated that only KPL has the capacity to determine the number of teams in the league and thus FKF’s decision to increase the number of teams to 18 is unlawful.

“A decision be and is hereby reached that the Kenyan Premier League shall have a maximum of 16 teams during the 2017 season, consisting of the fourteen (14) Kenyan Premier League teams which qualified for sporting merit on the field during the 2016 season plus the two (2) highest ranked clubs at the end of the 2016 season in the Football Kenya Federation’s National Super League,” the ruling delivered by High Court judge John Mativo read.

No interference

Nyamweya sued Football Kenya Federation and the Sports Disputes Tribunal on the basis of an agreement he signed with KPL in September 2015 giving the league body mandate to run the league without the interference of the federation.

He argued that with FKF ordering an 18-team league and the Sports Tribunal rubber stamping the same, they were in contravention of the said agreement.

Mativo in his ruling affirmed the same, saying KPL had the sole responsibility of running the top tier league. He went on to give an order that FKF should not interfere with the running of the top league.

The ruling which read should come into effect in the 2017 season throws the current season into confusion. Already 25 rounds of matches have been played with 18 teams.

“We will seek a legal interpretation of the ruling and then make a decision at the Governing Council meeting. At the moment we cannot talk of any decisions but as KPL we have to respect the rule of law,” KPL CEO Jack Oguda said.

FKF in a short responsive statement said they are planning to move to the Court of Appeal to appeal the same decision. They have also said they will inform FIFA of the ongoings in the country.

If FIFA catch wind of the ensuing legal battles in the corridors of justice, then the country stands the risk of a ban as the world governing body in its statutes does not allow football matters to be taken to the courts.

Return of the 16-team format

The FKF/KPL agreement runs until 2020. If the Court of Appeal upholds the decision of the Constitutional and Human Rights wing of the high court then the 2018 season might see a return of the 16-team format.

This will give a new headache to both KPL and FKF on the promotion and demotion criteria for the new season.

At the beginning of the season, KPL went to the Sports Disputes Tribunal after FKF made a decision to expand the league to 18 teams.

At the end of the tussle that took almost two months, the Tribunal finally ruled that FKF had the mandate of running the league hence the 18-team decision upheld.

It is from this decision that Nyamweya went to the High Court seeking a repeal of the same.