SportPesa suspend Gor, AFC sponsorship over hooliganism

By alex wafula
Apr 27, 2016
  • Tusker's Eugene Asike (L) against Gor Mahia's Enock Agwanda in a match that was interrupted by fan trouble. As a result, SportPesa have suspended their sponsorship. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Assistant referee George Mwangi is escorted off the match between Gor Mahia and Tusker FC which was marred by fan trouble. SportPesa have suspended their sponsorship. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Betting firm SportPesa has indefinitely suspended sponsorship to both Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards over acts of hooliganism involving the two teams.

The decision was made just two days before the two clubs come under investigation by the Kenya Premier League Independent Disciplinary and Complaints committee over cases of fan trouble.

The measure to suspend the sponsorship was announced on Tuesday evening by SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri even as Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa announced new measures to help curb hooliganism including docking of points for clubs who cause abandonment of matches.

“We have decided to suspend the two sponsorships with immediate effect. We will summon officials of both clubs within the week and we will reinstate our partnership once we are satisfied actions are being taken to curb this vice,” Karauri said.

“As sponsors we will not sit back and watch as our brand is tarnished. It is unfortunate some teams feel they are above the law. If something happens like loss of life or damage of property, it is our brand which is damaged and that will be irreversible. We would rather act now before that happens,” he added.

Last weekend, AFC Leopards caused the abandonment of their match against Ulinzi Stars in Mumias after fans invaded the pitch while throwing projectiles at match officials contesting a penalty awarded to the military side.

Consequently, Ulinzi were awarded three points from the match while more sanctions will be meted on Leopards after the IDCC hearing.

Gor fans contested a penalty

Gor Mahia fans also disrupted their match against Tusker FC the previous weekend, also contesting a penalty awarded to Tusker with the match officials being attacked by fans.

In the new sanctions announced, a team will be docked six points and play the next home match in an empty stadium while losing the said match on a 2-0 basis. In the event that the team repeats the offence it will be deducted six points again and play its next consecutive three matches in an empty stadium.

If the team commits the offence for a third time it will be relegated to a lower league and will be fined Sh500,000.

A player or team official who appears to incite fans to disrupt a match will be slapped with a one match ban and a subsequent fine of Sh20,000. A repeat offender will be banned for a year. Also, any player or team official who attacks or attempts to attack a match official will be suspended for one calendar year.

The team that the player represents will be liable for any and all damages caused to the match official Fans who cause a fight or incite crowd violence will be banned from attending all football matches in the country.

It will be the responsibility of the team that he/she supports to ensure that the spectator is denied entry. If a club is found guilty of not enforcing this rule the Federation will take appropriate action against the club. This action could be a fine, playing home matches in empty stadiums or deduction of points.

Heavy fine for pitch invasion

If a supporter of a particular team invades the field of play with an intention to cause violence on players or match officials, the club that he supports will be fined Sh 100,000 and play three of its consecutive home matches in an empty stadium.

“We are serious about these things and this time action will be taken immediately. We are putting up a committee to specifically take care of the security of both Gor and AFC matches because we have realized if we leave it to the team stewards, then there is trouble,” Mwendwa said.

He also disclosed that talks are at an advanced stage with the Ministry of Interior and the Inspector General of Police to train police officers in crowd control as well as ensure offenders who are arrested causing chaos are arrested and charged in a court of law.

AFC Leopards have been tasked to produce their stewards who attacked the referee in Mumias while Gor has been asked to produce the fan who went into the pitch to attack a match official.