Ex-Kenyan stars call on government to stop hard line stance
Webster Nyandika and Barry Silah
Former international players are worried that the stand-off between the government and world governing body FIFA could portend job losses for local players.
More than 1,000 players are currently featuring in the different tier leagues across the country and could be seriously affected should the country be banned by FIFA due to government interference.
FIFA has dismissed a ruling by the Sports Dispute Tribunal (SDT) for the formation of a normalisation committee in Kenya.
Harambee Stars assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno said he is disappointed some officials don’t care about a possible ban on Kenya.
“The real stakeholders are coaches, players and referees as they directly earn from the game yet no one is listening to our concerns.
If a FIFA ban comes, it is us who will be affected directly not those sitting in boardrooms,” said Otieno, popularly known as Zico.
AFC Leopards coach Antony Kimani said a ban will make an already bad situation worse.
“As it is, we are all already in a bad situation with no sponsors for the top league and clubs.
Adding a ban onto it, will push away any sponsor who may be interested in taking up the league,” said Kimani.
“In the last two years, Gor Mahia have done well qualifying for the group stages of Confederations Cup and giving several players good exposure. We risk throwing it all away,” he added.
His sentiments were backed by Leopards legend Boniface Ambani. “We have about 1,000 players across all our leagues and they risk losing their employment status should we earn the wrath of a FIFA ban.
Some people might be advocating for such a move but the consequences could be dire,” said Ambani, who is also the Leopards youth team coach.
Former international goalkeeper Francis Onyiso said players will have nothing to play for if the country is banned from international football.
“With lack of international matches, the players will have no motivation at all to play football at the highest level.
This will affect our standards,” he said. Other former internationals with similar views are Peter Dawo, Musa Otieno, Jerim Onyango, Bernard Mwalala, James Nandwa, Musa Otieno, Jeff Oyando, Nick Yakhama, John Barasa, Hillary Echesa, Tom Juma, Maurice Sunguti and Julius Owino.