NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 13 – Football Kenya Federation will suspend all football activities from Monday March 16 to the first week of April after the government banned all gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus with the first case confirmed in Kenya on Friday.
Consequently, this weekend’s FKF Cup Round of 16 matches will be played behind closed doors as well as a select National Super League and Women Premier League matches.
“The Cup games are in venues which are easily controllable so we have made the decision to play the games behind closed doors. For the NSL and WPL matches, only those which will be hosted in a controllable environment will go on. Others will not.”
“There will be no football from Monday until the first week of April and that is pending on how the situation will be and the information we will have from the government. Safety of our players and fans is paramount,” FKF president Nick Mwendwa told Capital Sport after an afternoon meeting.
The FKF Cup was set to enter the round of 16 this weekend but the government on Friday announced it was banning all public gatherings after a 27-year old student travelling to Nairobi from the USA via London was confirmed to have contracted the virus.
Earlier, his Secretary General Barry Otieno had hinted they might be forced to call off the weekend games, but a consensus has now been reached to play the games behind closed doors.
“They are local matches so it will be easy to manage,” stated Mwendwa.
“As a precautionary measure, there will be no pre and post-match handshakes in the said fixtures and fans will not be allowed in and around the stadium,”
“Further, FKF advises all clubs, both at the national and grass-root level to cancel and/or suspend non-essential activities that include but are not limited to open training sessions, unplanned fan engagements and unnecessary team travels.”
“The federation is actively monitoring the development of the Corona Virus in Kenya and beyond, and continues to liaise with the Kenyan government, CAF and FIFA in the execution of both the domestic and international football matches, and will continue to give timely update of the same.,” a statement that followed from the federation stated.
Stars will still not play their 2021 Cup of Nations qualifier against Comoros scheduled for March 25 and 29th. The first leg had been scheduled for Nairobi while the return was to be played in Moroni four days later.
The government has banned public gatherings, international travels for Kenyan teams as well as any meeting that involves 15 or more people of foreign nationality.
At the same time, Kenya will not send its junior team to the Mediterenean International Cup tournament in Spain after the organizers cancelled the event over the growing COVID-19 which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.