Negotiations key to re-energise football
Even in the heat of an election period, it is still important to take a step back and think about the future of Kenyan football, which is in dire straits.
Whoever will be in charge of the Ministry of Sports after the elections, should consider the willingness of Fifa to re-engage so that Kenya can be readmitted to the global football family.
On Monday, Fifa representative Amaju Pinnick made a stop-over in Nairobi and said the world body was ready to meet whoever will be elected the fifth President of Kenya to address the issues affecting the game. If they reach an amicable solution, then Fifa will seriously consider lifting the ban imposed on the country and which has locked Kenyan players from international matches until 2025.
An indefinite suspension of the country by Fifa is not good for the game and players considering the far-reaching consequences. Among the ramifications is that players will be denied opportunities to play for their clubs and national teams in international fixtures that expose their talent for possible moves to top leagues abroad. In the same vein, referees have been struck off the officiating list, including for the forthcoming World Cup for which several local match officials had been identified.
It is, therefore, in the interest of football and ministry officials to find a way to resolve the problems that led to the suspension of FKF. We believe that a willingness to negotiate will yield a solution. All sides ought to express their willingness to back down and negotiate. If they don’t, Kenya will continue missing out on a lot of valuable opportunities in the international arena.
Given that Fifa appreciates the fact that governments are important stakeholders in the game and the world body can’t work without them, local officials should be encouraged to seek a way out of the impasse and use their goodwill to find a way forward that will be a win-win for all.
Similarly, FKF official should feel duty-bound to put the interests of the sport before their own so that Kenya’s footballers are not held to ransom when officials and government representatives differ.
There is a great deal of money to be made from football, whose social contribution also includes bringing people together. These two ideas should guide talks that will help put players back on the field and reinstate Kenya in the global football family, where it rightfully belongs.