February 26 – The injunction taken out by the Football Kenya Federation last Friday, in contravention of its own statutes and those of FIFA, to bring the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) to a halt was served on Monday morning, plunging the league its players and Kenyan football into deeper crisis.
Whilst the KPL will be looking to get that injunction overturned, Kenyan football is in the grip of a dispute which threatens the whole fabric of football in the country and the livelihoods of the players. Many are now looking to FIFA to see if it will intervene to uphold its statutes, including those relating to fairness in football competitions, not having parallel leagues in the same country and non-interference in football affairs.
16 clubs or 18?
Whilst much of the media has cast the crisis in terms of a dispute between the KPL and FKF over whether to have 16 clubs or 18 clubs in the Kenyan Premier League, it has also been widely stated that this is not the real reason for the dispute. Nevertheless the real reasons seem to have been sketchily reported, leaving many fans and the players in the position of not understanding the dispute and wishing a plague on both houses.
It is fortunate that FIFA appointed a consultant, Robert Niemann, an executive director of the Institute of International Football Management, to arbitrate and help resolve the dispute between FKF and the KPL. His report stated that: “The difficult situation in Kenyan football is not as a result of desire to increase the size of the league to 18 teams but due to politics, mistrust and competing interests between FKF and KPL.”
According to the report, it is “the strong wish of the president of FKF to increase the size of the league to 18 teams is very much motivated on promises which have been given to two teams from the national Super League, one team, Shabana FC (from the home area in Kenya of the president of FKF). The delegation got the strong impression that there is no other justification for the increase of the KPL up to 18 teams.”
Fairness in football competitions
One of the principles of football is fairness in competition, but in Kenya there is a situation, confirmed by the FIFA consultant, where Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Sam Nyamweya has been interfering in the running of football to favour Shabana FC – a team for which he was elected patron in January 2014.
Numerous decisions of the FKF are reported to have been made in favour of Shabana FC, including deducting points from opponents in dubious circumstances – matters which have been put before FIFA’s Ethics Committee.
Nyamweya rejected Niemann’s proposals and in particular his recommendation the FPL stick with 16 teams for this season, and has rather pursued his goals by setting up a league in parallel to the KPL – called the FKF/PL – to which the FKL have “promoted” 14 Super League sides.
In order to try and forestall the KPL, which has operated for eight seasons, from going ahead, Nyamweya, took the matter to the civil courts on the day before the KPL was due to kick off, persuading Milimani High Court judge Justice Mbogholi Msagha to bar the KPL from hosting, commencing, running, managing or in any way conducting a parallel league, pending a March 3 hearing of a case filed by FKF.
As well as being in contravention to Nyamweya’s own previously expressed position on using the courts in football matters, this move is in violation of FKF’s own law which states, “FKF, its Members… will not take any dispute to Ordinary Courts unless specifically provided for in these Statutes and FIFA regulations. Any disagreement shall be submitted to the jurisdiction of FIFA, CAF or FKF.”
This stipulation is of course mirrored in FIFA statutes which hold that ” it is prohibited to take disputes in the Association or disputes affecting Leagues, members of Leagues, clubs, members of clubs, Players, Officials and other Association Officials to ordinary courts of law, unless the FIFA regulations or binding legal provisions specifically provide for or stipulate recourse to ordinary courts of law.”
The way ahead
As FIFA’s Secretary-General Jerome Valcke acknowledged in a letter to Nyamweya, “the world football body’s support in the process of whether the KPL should have 16 or 18 participant clubs had come to an end following FKF’s criticism of the report compiled by FIFA’s independent expert consultant and given FKF deemed itself capable of finding a local solution.”
Valcke told Nyamweya that: “In this context we would like to remind you again that this matter is now for FKF to resolve on its own with the relevant stakeholders in Kenya,” and insisted the FKF find a solution which was acceptable to “all relevant stakeholders and in the best interests of Kenyan football.”
According to Valcke the “FKF must comply with the FIFA Statutes and any violation of the above obligations may lead to sanctions as provided under Article 13.2 of the FIFA Statutes.”
With Nyamweya having failed to find a solution acceptable to Kenya’s football community as a whole, having created a situation where there are parallel leagues operating in Kenya, having openly violated FIFA statutes in taking the dispute to a civil court and having, according to FIFA’s own consultant, created the current mayhem in order to benefit a team from his home area, logic suggests FIFA will impose sanctions as promised – the difficulty being Nyamweya’s mandate as head of the FKF extends until new elections are held in November 2015.
– BY INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL
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