Kenya should urgently fix its football mess
Kenyan football is in quandary and has been hit where it hurts most since Harambee Stars will not feature in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) for the first time in the country’s history.
The 2023 Afcon qualifications started in earnest on Wednesday but Stars were excluded following the indefinite suspension Kenya has been slapped with by Fifa; football’s world governing body, over what it described as government interference in the management of the game.
Sadly, Kenya’s footballers and more the adherents of the revered sport will be watching from the periphery as other countries take part in qualification ties ahead of the Afcon finals slated for Cote d’Ivoire next year.
The consequences of this lockout are too painful, not just for the players and the country, but for football lovers in Kenya. The pain is even more pronounced than in our neighbouring countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia, which will all be gunning for a ticket in the biannual showcase in which Kenya has been excluded alongside Zimbabwe.
With Fifa adamant that it can only reinstate Kenya only if Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed reinstates Football Kenya Federation (FKF) leadership team, which she disbanded last year over alleged financial impropriety, this is not a time for blame game but to take stock of what has happened and put workable strategies in place to ensure that Kenya makes its way back into the global football arena.
While some would be quick to apportion blame on CS Amina for her failure to soften her stance which would have resulted in the ban being lifted, it would be better to accept that we need to fix Kenyan football once and for all and not cry over spilt milk.
Granted, the two years Kenya will be out in the cold should serve us with an opportunity to turn round the fortunes of the game that is wanting on the international stage. Kenya’s goal should be to come back stronger and better. In other words, the custodians of the sport in the country should come up with solutions for the sake of placing the sport where it belongs.
But most importantly, it would be in the interest of all if the government reaches a consensus with Fifa at the earliest opportune moment considering that Kenya will still need to take part in the 2025 Afcon qualifiers.
There is no doubt that players, clubs, referees and fans who make a living either directly or indirectly from football are ultimately the ones who will suffer in the ongoing embargo but this is a time to re-examine our football if Kenya is to bounce back stronger.
For instance, the importance of coming up with vibrant youth academies to grow talent cannot be over-emphasised as this is one of the ways to achieve our goals in both the short and long term.