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Brand Kenya back as Shujaa sponsors

L-R: Kenya Rugby Union CEO Ronald Bukusi, Sports Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Kenya Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 29- Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has rescinded his decision to cancel the Brand Kenya ‘Make it Kenya’ sponsorship with the national rugby sevens team after a series of talks with his Sports counterpart Rashid Echesa.

In a joint press briefing on Friday morning with the Sports Ministry, Balala has announced that after consultations with Echesa, he deemed it fit to see the Sh20mn sponsorship deal with Shujaa back.

“We called these people, talked with them and they have apologized. This was an embarrassing situation and whatever differences they have should be resolved locally,”

“We realized there was a problem and we called them talked to them and they have apologized. The apology is to the people of Kenya. We are ready to reinstate our support and also co-sponsors Bidco have said they will continue with their support because they were also threatening to go,” Balala said.

Balala also said the contract will be re-negotiated after the World Cup in San Francisco, United States next month and the brand infront of the jersey will change from ‘Make it Kenya’ to ‘Magical Kenya’.

“The tourism ministry is committed to use rugby in the next three years to promote Kenya as a destination,” Balala announced.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala addressing a press conference on June 29, 2018 announcing that the ministry will sponsor the Kenya Sevens team. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“We have made a decision that the brand that will be put infront of the jersey from today onward is Magical Kenya. We have observed that we are confusing the audience.”

“Magical Kenya is promoting the destination. It has been accepted internationally that everything you do in Kenya is magical including our Shujaa team,”

Nonetheless, the team will not wear the branded jerseys for the World Cup in San Francisco as it is against World Rugby rules to have shirt sponsorship.

The team can wear either branded training kits or travel clothing with brands but not in the actual match.

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The CS has also announced that the players have been paid the Sh2.5mn owed to them.

Balala had announced last week that the deal was off after the players masked the ‘Make it Kenya’ logo from the front of their jerseys in protest over unpaid dues.

Echesa was represented by Sports Chief Administrative Officer Hassan Noor while KRU was represented by Chief Executive Officer Ronald Bukusi.

Andrew Amonde was present on behalf of the players.

Kenya sevens skipper Andrew Amonde addressing the press on Friday morning alongside Tourism CS Najib Balala

Bukusi read a written apology on behalf of the Union and players and has promised such scenario will not be witnessed again.

“As players we are very sorry for what happened. We are happy as a team for this and we now focus on what is ahead of us at the World Cup to do well at the World Cup,” Amonde said.

While reading an apology on behalf of the union and players, Bukusi said it was unfortunate that whatever happened in Paris tainted the image of the country.

“We have put in place proper structures to ensure grievances are resolved amicably without tainting the image of our country. We commit to ensure that as brand ambassadors we will position Kenya as a globally transformative and competitive nation,” the statement added.

Speaking on behalf of the Sports Ministry, Noor said he was pleased that a lasting solution has been found to the issue and urged Kenyan teams to ensure the highest degree of discipline.

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