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SportPesa to decide Friday if to reinstate Gor, AFC sponsorship

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A police officer keeps guard during the trouble ridden Gor Mahia v Tusker match/PHOTO-Raymond Makhaya

A police officer keeps guard during the trouble ridden Gor Mahia v Tusker match/PHOTO-Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, May 5- After an 11 day wait, betting firm SportPesa might lift the suspension of their sponsorship to Kenyan Premier League giants champions Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

SportPesa closed their financial taps on the two clubs on Monday last week, due to cases of hooliganism, but following a series of meetings a reinstatement of the partnership might be announced as soon as Friday.

“We’ve had two meetings with them and by tomorrow (Friday) we will have concluded and made a decision whether to continue or not. But it’s looking promising. We have made significant steps and I think they have done a lot. There is a whole document of what they have promised to do and we are convinced they have committed to stemming hooliganism out,” SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri said.

“We will have a final meeting and then announce the way forward. Most likely there’ll be good news,” he added.

A section of Leopards fans caused abandonment of their match against Ulinzi Stars April 23 in Mumias while a week before, Gor fans caused chaos during their match against Tusker FC in Nairobi where some fans attacked match officials.

The cases have already been forwarded to the Kenya Premier League Independent Disciplinary and Complaints Committee (IDCC) and a decision on action to be taken will be reached on May 12.

KPL CEO Jack Oguda speaking to Capital Sport said the two clubs had already been summoned in two separate sittings and made their submissions.

“The committee felt there was some substantial information needed and hence required more witnesses. They will have their next sitting on Thursday next week and make a ruling as they will have gathered enough evidence,” Oguda said.

Among the sanctions likely to be meted on the two clubs include playing in an empty stadium as well as hefty financial penalties if property is proved to have been damaged.

It is not the first time the two clubs have found themselves on the wrong side of the law but previously, they have been let off the hook after appealing to the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

However, Oguda says this time decisions made will have huge implications especially with FKF and KPL committing to work together to punish perpetrators of crowd trouble in stadia.

“Previously, we didn’t have such a good working relationship with the Federation and they were making decisions from a National Executive Committee level. This time things are different. There are rules to be followed together with a well laid out judicial process,” Oguda added.

This comes as KPL and league sponsors SportPesa held a one-day workshop at a Nairobi hotel in a bid to discuss ways to fight the growing tide of hooliganism.

The Principal Secretary in the Department of Correctional Services in the Ministry of Interior Micah Pkopus Powon officially opened the workshop outlining the government’s commitment to help fight the vice and promote a peaceful environment where sports can flourish.

In the past, police have been accused of poor crowd control methods as well as failing to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of stadium violence.

“Anyone caught in acts of hooliganism will definitely face the full course of the law without a doubt. Our police officers are also in constant training to equip them with better crowd control tactics. It is our commitment and that is why we are here today, to affirm that we are part of this,” Powon assured.

“We have started with Nairobi and soon we will go to other cities. We want to make the sport as open to everyone as possible and these are some of the small steps we are taking to ensure we achieve that. The growth of our game greatly depends on how we deal with issues of hooliganism,” Oguda asserted.

Last week, FKF announced new stringent measures aimed at curbing hooliganism, including year-long bans and hefty fines which will be rolled out with immediate effect.

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