NAIROBI, Kenya, April 19- World governing body Fifa has distanced itself from the row involving Harambee Stars captain Denis Oliech and the team’s sponsors East Africa Breweries over use of his image in a billboard advert.
In a letter addressed to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chief Sam Nyamweya, Fifa labelled the issue as an internal matter that does not come under their jurisdiction.
“Most of the queries raised in the aforesaid correspondence apparently refer to a dispute between the national team players of the FKF and Kenyan sponsors of the federation, and do therefore seem to be an internal matter that does not come under the remit of FIFA,” the letter signed by Director Of Legal Affairs, Marco Villiger and Head Of Corporate Legal, Oliver Jaberg read in part.
However, the world body gave leeway for punitive action to be taken against Oliech if he carries his threat to stay away from the national team with 2014 World Cup and 2013 Nations qualifiers resuming next month.
The letter quoted Article 3, Paragraph 1 of Annexe 1 of the Fifa statutes that states, “As a general rule, every player registered with a club is obliged to respond affirmatively when called up by the association he is eligible to represent on the basis of his nationality to play for one of its representative teams,” in opening up possible action against the AJ Auxerre forward.
Nyamweya refereed the matter to Fifa when talks between the company and Oliech’s representatives failed to unlock the impasse that saw the captain announce his retirement from international football on Sunday.
The letter was however, silent of whether any action can be taken against a player who announces retirement from the national team outside the required world governing body period of compliance that is four days ahead of an international fixture.
“We kindly draw your attention to the fact that this information is of an informative nature and only and, therefore, without prejudice to any decision the competent body may be called to pass in the above or any similar matter,” Fifa expressed.
On Monday, EABL who have sponsored Stars through their Tusker brand in a three-year deal worth Sh110m ($1.34m) declined to compensate Oliech for using his picture alongside McDonald Mariga and Bob Mugalia celebrating a goal in their promotional billboard.
The striker who was represented by his brother Felix held their hard line stance leaving FKF to ask Fifa for direction.
As Stars prepare to face Malawi and Togo in the World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers next month, the impasse threatens to rob the side of their record goal scorer who has struck ten times for his club this season in the French Ligue 1.