The constant feud between the Football Kenya Federation and the Kenyan Premier League is proving to be a burden too heavy for the country to carry.
The FKF is mandated to run football in the entire nation while KPL is solely responsible for the top-flight football leagues.
In the United Kingdom, where Kenya has adopted several football rules, cooperation between the Football Association, the English Premier League and many other leagues has been the backbone of their success.
Back in Kenya, the two governing bodies have had a constant wrangle, raising many questions about the attitude of those managing them.
The tussle can be dated back to 2004 when Alfred Sambu took over as chairman of the local football federation, then known as Kenya Football Federation. And the war has escalated since Nick Mwendwa was elected as the FKF president in 2016.
All have not been rosy for him, and his tenure has been marred by constant criticism, some of which have compromised the Kenyan football.
In 2016, the Federation was pushing so hard to have 18 teams in the KPL. But the league managers insisted on 16 teams in a matter that was settled by the Sports Disputes Tribunal.
Many have also blamed Mwendwa for working in favour of Kariobangi Sharks, which he is the founder. And this also played a role in 2017 when Mwendwa was bashed for interfering with Harambee Stars by influencing the then head coach Stanley Okumbi to play the inexperienced Massoud Juma against Sierra Leone in the World Cup qualifiers.
Most recently, the feud was evident to the world when the FKF cancelled the leagues and declared Gor Mahia champions following the unending coronavirus pandemic.
KPL came out gun blazing as they protested the decision, saying they amounted to breach of the league’s mandate through interfering with the management of its affairs.
“The lack of consistency in the Federation’s stand on the fate the two competitions implies; a selective application of the rules by FKF, the selective interpretation by FKF of CAF’s letter to the Federation, disregard by FKF of the hard work put in by KPL teams to reach where they are in the current KPL 2019/20 standings, amounts to breach of the KPL mandate on running of the league through interfering with the management of its affairs,” part of the statement read.
FKF, on the other side, stated they had to take the decision after the continental body CAF wrote to members on Tuesday giving them until May 5 to communicate their plans on the fate of domestic football seasons in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
For that reason, the FKF submitted the name of Gor Mahia on Thursday as the winners of the 2019-20 KPL season and also the country’s flag bearers in the Caf Champion League.
However, FKF acting CEO Barry Otieno stated the country will likely not take part in the second-tier Confederation Cup because “we did not submit any name for the competition.”
“We could not manage to give a name [of a club] for the competition because we don’t have rules which govern the domestic Cup [FKF Shield Cup],” Otieno told Goal on Tuesday.
This leaves many with the question of what would have happened to the Kenyan side if they had not settled for a winner.
Maybe the country could have not participated in the Caf Champions League.
But the two bodies must find a solution to their wrangles soon. The squabbles are sure to further affect the performance of the national team and Kenyan clubs in international competitions.