NAIROBI, Kenya, October 28 – Months after the government revoked Coca Cola’s naming rights of Nyayo National Stadium, a rival soft drinks company is said to be courting the Stadia Management Board (SSMB) to have its name christen Kenya’s famous stadium.
Sports Assistant Minister Kabando Wa Kabando on Wednesday neither admitted or denied that such a deal was in the offing but stated his office will comment on the matter once they receive official communication from the SSMB.
“At this stage I don’t have any complete information. The Commissioner of Sport who is a member of that board is yet to brief me regarding that. For now it’s in the grapevine,” said Kabando.
The three year deal which Coke had previously entered with the SSMB was revoked by Sports Minister Professor Hellen Sambili back in May.
Sambili claimed that the Sh118 million deal tarnished Kenya’s national heritage despite the multinational promising to give the stadium a new face ahead of next year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
“I think it was a huge mistake to chase away Coca Cola in order to preserve a name. We have talked to the President and the Prime Minister and I personally believe that my minister (Sambili) was misadvised,” said Kabando.
The cancellation of the deal not only stalled the impending development of the 26 year old stadium but also caused an uproar within the sports and corporate fraternity.
Kabando made his remarks when he received Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) secretary general Nicholas Musonye with the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup now exactly a month away.
“We are pleased to see that the government has come in strongly to support this tournament. For the competition to succeed, the government must be involved,” said Musonye.
He also announced that FIFA has sent their head of referees to Kenya to conduct an officials seminar from November 24-26.
“The aim is to ensure that we have high quality of officiating during the Challenge Cup and bring our referees upto a level that that they can be considered for matches at the world cup,” said Musonye.
Musonye also revealed that they have so far received 20 per cent of their Sh40 million budget from sponsors including Sh6 million from the government.
“I am confident that we will receive the total amount before the tournament starts. We are still talking to some potential sponsors and hope to have them on board by Friday,” said Musonye.