Nyamweya return was matter of when, not if

Friday, April 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Former FKF president Sam Nyamweya (in red) with former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario (centre) and Deputy President William Ruto during a past international football match at Kasarani. Photo/PD RODGERS NDEGWA

His bounce back is not surprising; it has always been coming. Since relinquishing the presidency of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) in 2016 to incumbent Nick Mwendwa, former football administrator Sam Keengu Nyamweya has remained hyper active on matters relating to both local and international soccer.

Thus, his announcement last Sunday that he would be seeking to unseat Mwendwa in the impending controversy-ridden national soccer elections was not a surprise to those who have followed his moves and utterances in the past two years.

His body language, political darts and antics have consistently pointed to a situation in which it was only a matter of when, not if, he would be taking the gauntlet to tough it out with his youthful successor.

Nyamweya’s word and deed have continually raised eyebrows within the sporting fraternity, with soaring speculation that he planned for a return to soccer management, with keen observers and stakeholders alike linking him to a simmering contest for FKF’s management.

Withdrawal from race

The former FKF chief did not defend his seat four years ago, instead opting to pull out of the race only minutes before the polls kicked off at the Moi Sports Complex, Kasarani in Nairobi.

His withdrawal - which is strongly believed to have been engineered by powerful establishment figures through then Sports CS Hassan Wario who deemed him as not politically-correct - took many by surprise at the time, though few would doubt his desire to come back as he has. 

Way back in June 2018, at a time when the FIFA World Cup was going on in Russia, Nyamweya released a subtle press statement in which he expressed his frustrations at the exit of all the five African representatives at the global soccer bonanza, a development he termed as “nerve-wracking and heart breaking.”

In the statement, he took issue with the use of technology-based Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the football fiesta in Russia, attributing its application to the exit of two of the African teams from the World Cup. 

 “While qualification to the knock-out phase, just like every other competition is based on merit, Africa is left with a bitter taste of group stage proceedings in Russia because of the manner in which some of our teams ended up exiting the tournament.

Nigeria and Senegal come into mind, while Morocco’s is a case of having a decision against them when they were already eliminated from the tournament,” said Nyamweya. 

“Further, it is unfortunate that the tie-breaking regulations would come down to the number of yellow cards as was applied in the case of Senegal after tying with Japan,” he added.

At the nascent stage of the World Cup tournament, Nyamweya went public to strongly support the move by Fifa Congress to award North America - the United States and Canada - the rights to host the 2026 event and went further to urge African countries to take cue from the winners and form blocks through which they can bid to host future competitions.

Mwendwa had voted for the losing Morocco during the Fifa Congress, later explaining that his decision was based on the fact that Morocco is an African country just like Kenya and it would have been an act of betrayal for him to stand by the North Americans.

More on Football