NAIROBI, Kenya, March 3 – Football Kenya Federation (FKF) vice-president, Robert Asembo, was forced to take to his heels and flee for dear life in the precincts of Nairobi’s Milimani High Court on Tuesday to escape the wrath of irate fans baying for his blood as domestic football wars took a violent turn.
Drama unfolded when Asembo, a practising lawyer, instructed his learned friend Eric Mutua who is holding brief for the federation in a civil suit filed against their Kenyan Premier League (KPL) rivals to decline his suspended predecessor, Sammy Sholei and former Nairobi Delegate, Dan Shikanda to be enjoined in the case as interested parties.
Civil Division judge, Justice Aburili adjourned the hearing to Thursday, giving FKF and KPL 48 hours to thrash out an out of court settlement to their dispute which has brought two parallel premier leagues in the country.
Fans that flocked the courtroom were disappointed with the judge’s ruling and soon gathered along the corridors forcing Asembo to seek police escort when it became apparent he was a target of their wrath.
However, he found another group laying in wait at the court entrance, forcing him to break into a sprint for his life and out of the premises through the parking gate where he hopped into his car and revved off to safety in the busy Nairobi traffic.
“No way! We can’t allow football to be run in a court. There are players who depend on it for a living. Why are they postponing the case to Thursday? We wanted everything to be cleared today if at all they were ready,” one of the enraged fans shouted.
“There is no direction in football management, our football standards have gone down but the most important thing there will be no league that will run. We can’t allow one league to run yet the other is stopped,” another declared.
Gor Mahia’s loyal supporter Pastor Sudi Jayimbo weighed in, “This issue is heartbreaking, we are suffering as fans and the players too, where are we heading as a nation? I urge the Government to take over and streamline football in the country because both FKF and KPL have failed to solve the wrangles.”
-Only in Kenya-
Two weeks ago Harambee Stars and Tusker FC defender James Situma wrote on his Facebook account… “Only in Kenya when born a football player turns out suicidal, celebrity on the screen and poverty always at your door step.”
Justice Aburili gave both parties 15 minutes to deliberate on breaking the deadlock in camera and when Mutua and Geoffrey Obura for KPL could not come to agreement, the hearing proceeded.
It was adjourned when the Judge determined four issues on the table, FKF’s injunction against KPL running their league, KPL’s responding affidavit, KPL’s contravention of a court order stopping their competition and enjoining Sholei and Shikanda in the suit will be heard on Thursday if the parties do not agree to resolve the matter.
Mid February, another showdown meeting directed by Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario, at a Nairobi hotel collapsed when KPL pulled out citing FKF’s attempt to force the 18-team league agenda through a vote by capitalising on their numerical advantage on the day.
It remains to be seen whether the two bodies will heed Justice Aburili’s sensible call to dialogue having taken hardliner positions since the dispute over the league erupted last November with the prospect of court action more likely.
World governing body Fifa and Government have remained studiously quiet thus far on the stand-off that sees KPL’s league suspended and 14 lower division sides promoted to play in the FKF PL in what will irreparably damage the country’s football if not checked as it plays out in the corridors of justice.
Players who had given both parties a week to iron out their differences or face strike action across both leagues are awaiting Thursday’s developments to chart the next course of action, their spokesperson, Wilson Obungu, told Capital Sport.