Did cash change hands for Rio selection?

By the punter
Aug 31, 2021
  • The smile on Kenya Lioness players after arriving from Rio masks allegations that they were asked to part with more than half of their allowances. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

The Kenya Rugby Union, KRU, is investigating serious allegations that some of its officials have approached seven-a-side players who traveled to Rio for the Olympics to ‘share’ some of their player allowances.

Sports News Arena, authoritatively confirmed from an insider who is privy to information from KRU that each of Kenya Lioness players were asked to pay Ksh.420,000 out of their allowances to these officials while the men’s players were asked to pay Ksh.120,000.

Our source explained the payment was a ‘facilitation fee’ for being named on the team.

When contacted by Sports News Arena, Richard Omwela the KRU Chairman said that these were  serious allegations which have not formally come to the board and if they do a committee would be formed to investigate these alongside other allegations that State House may have disbursed some funds to selected players. "If found to be true then heads will roll irrespective of those involved" Omwela warned.

Benjamin Ayimba, the Kenya Sevens head coach was more candid: “I am not aware of such an allegation. The allowances were paid directly into the player’s’ accounts.”

But, our source confirmed some of the Kenya Lioness players had already obliged although none of them would comment on the issue.

Those contacted by Sports News Arena preferred to keep quiet although we established the players had agreed to share their allowances with other team members who did not travel to Rio.

Only a sprinkle of Kenya Lioness players are in gainful employment.

Some players in the men’s team are students, employed or are jobless.

At the moment, it is not clear who the recipients of the ‘facilitation fees’ are. But, Sports News Arena can confirm they are KRU officials.

These allegations could not have come at a worse time when the heat has been turned on the National Olympic Committee of Kenya for the way they managed the Kenya team at the just concluded Olympics.

Also some of the men's players have formally asked KRU to investigate the criteria which was used for selecting the final squad to Rio.

Both teams performed dismally winning only one match to finish 11th. The performance raised eyebrows over the team's preparations although the technical bench said the players were elected on merit. "This was the best team," they stated.

Sports News Arena understands that the line of questioning by the investigating officials also focused on NOCK’s preference for Eldoret and Nandi for the athletics and rugby teams residential training camp.

The rugby teams camped at the Nandi Bears club, a facility the men's team had used earlier in the year as they prepared for the World Rugby Sevens World Series.

Stephen Arap Soi, the head of team Kenya in Rio 2016, who was arrested on arrival from Brazil and is currently admitted in hospital, clarified that the KRU had preferred to stay at the high altitude training camp and NOCK had paid Ksh. 9 million after negotiating from the initial costing of 12. 

“NOCK paid Nandi Bears 9 million with the Nandi county committing 1 million shillings that was never paid but the county had a standby state of the art ambulance on site’” he clarified.