NAIROBI, Kenya, August 9- Kenyan football is headed to turbulent waters after the Government invited an imminent international ban by Fifa after announcing on Tuesday it was ready to severe links with world governing body.
Speaking to parliament, Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma, said the Government had ran out of patience with the impasse over the forthcoming Football Kenya elections set for Saturday as he blamed Fifa for failing to avert the stand-off that has thrown the whole process in doubt.
“We still have alternatives as Government if Fifa will not honour their part of the bargain and as a Government we are prepared to severe our links so that we can re-organise our own football,” the charged minister told parliament.
Dr. Otuoma added: “This is the message I have told them very clearly that as much as we have taken one year to organise these elections and as much as the government has given them all the corporation, I will be very disappointed if at this last hour if Fifa does not play its role in ensuring the process is completed.”
On the possibility government interference in football matters will invite a Fifa ban from international football, the minister stormed, “We will not participate in Fifa organised matches for two years and then after that we shall reapply. If we had done that when I came in, one year would already be gone but now we are ready to cut all ties.”
“If this thing is not going to be credible, we will take over the process. People say I’m not commenting on the matter but I have been trying to see what we can do to salvage the situation but now I’m as anxious as those young men and women demonstrating out there.”
Otuoma’s comments in the House came on the day when protests against the delay in the elections were held in Nairobi where demonstrators led by candidates seeking positions in the new body called for the Independent Electoral Board (IEB) to be disbanded over the incompetence in managing the process.
Should the Government press ahead with its threats to cut links with Fifa, Kenya will invite its third international ban in a decade following the two indefinite sanctions in 2004 and 2007 after the State stepped in the football management row in the then governing body Kenya Football Federation (KFF).
After the second ban, Football Kenya Limited headed by Mohammed Hatimy was formed and given Fifa blessings to run football in the country as Sam Nyamweya was left holding on to KFF.
However, the private limited company did little to alleviate the dire state of the country’s game and the clamour to have a fresh administration led to Fifa and Government to close ranks and form IEB.
“Kenyan rating in football cannot continue to drop. Currently we are at number 130 and this is a country that should not be beyond 60. It is my intention to make sure this process takes place but my patience has been overstretched.”
Also on Tuesday, IEB announced the possibility of yet another deferral in the electoral process stating the Interim Independent Electoral Commission that is meant to conduct the polls was busy organising the Kamukunji parliamentary by-election set for August 18.
This in essence is the fourth postponement of the elections that were initially set for last December before being pushed back to April and then August 13.
IEB has courted more controversy by failing to clear candidates seeking position at national and regional levels in addition to confusion over the participating clubs that form the electorate, after they were pushed from just under 760 to 1558.
A court order barring the elections in place until a civil petition filed by Eric Orina at the High Court in Kisii is heard and determined on Wednesday is also in place.
“As you all are aware, Fifa is not a transparent body if you followed their recent elections but we cannot allow our youth to be wasted due to mismanagement of the game,” Otuoma stated in an apparent dig at the saga surrounding the July 1 polls at the world governing body that saw incumbent president, Joseph Blatter, the only candidate cleared to run.
His challenger, Mohammed Bin Hammam from Qatar has already been banned for life by Fifa’s Ethics Committee over vote buying bribery charges.