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Otuoma calls for meeting over Oliech saga

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8- Sports Minister Dr. Paul Otuoma has now called for a tripartite meeting to resolve the impasse surrounding the decision of Harambee Stars captain, Denis Oliech, to quit the national side.

Otuoma told Parliament on Tuesday that Oliech, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and East African Breweries Limited (EABL) over unauthorised use of his image on a billboard by the firm who are Stars sponsors.

He added the issues raised by the AJ Auxerre striker were genuine and must be addressed as he called for a review of the contract which was signed last year.

“My ministry appreciates and values, Oliech’s participation in the national team and will continue to advice and persuade him to put the national interest in front as we try to find a solution to his dissatisfaction in the contract,” the minister told the house.

Otuoma however, maintained that the French Ligue 1 forward has not formally communicated to either FKF or the Government.

He explained that Oliech’s case had presented a new challenge in protecting the intellectual rights of personalities citing that the Auxerre star had raised issues as an individual yet the sponsorship covered a team.

Otuoma refused to be drawn by MPs into a worst case scenario where the country’s top scorer lived to his word and refused to turn up and play for the Stars who resume their qualifying campaign for the 2013 Nations Cup and 2014 World Cup in June.

“I would be speculating if I said we have reached that point, I don’t believe we have reached that point yet. I believe Oliech is a nationalistic young man,” Otuoma quipped.

He was responding to a question filed by Eldoret South MP Peris Simam who queried what measures the government is taking to ensure that sports personalities such as Oliech and women 800m Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo whose images are used by such companies in advertisements are paid.

The Sports Minister said his office had not received any complaints from Jelimo or her management or Athletics Kenya in regard to outdoor advertising her pictures have been used.

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Otuoma appealed to support the enactment of the Sports Policy when it comes to parliament saying that its implementation will rid the sports industry of exploitation.

He said the Policy clearly states that commercial venture engaged by athletes should first and foremost take the interest of the athletes above other considerations.

– Report by Laban Wanambisi

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