Kenya differs with Caf over bungled football tournament

A bird’s-eye view of Kipchoge Stadium, which was supposed to be one of the stadia hosting the Africa Nations Championships. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG
A bird’s-eye view of Kipchoge Stadium, which was supposed to be one of the stadia hosting the Africa Nations Championships. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG 

The Sports ministry and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have blamed political events ahead of the repeat presidential elections for failure to host next year’s African Nations Championship (Chan).

The two bodies said the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) decision to strip Kenya of hosting rights was guided by the country’s political situation and not the poor state of sports facilities.

The five stadia earmarked to host the Chan competition were Moi International Sports Centre, Nyayo National Stadium, Kinoru Stadium, Kipchoge Keino Stadium and Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, all which require an overhaul.

But Caf said on Saturday that the poor state of the stadia was the main reason for blocking Kenya from hosting the event, adding that the facilities were  20 per cent complete and that they won’t be ready before December 1 when the venues are supposed to be handed over to event organisers.

State House on Thursday said the Cabinet had approved a supplementary budget which includes Sh4.2 billion for the event. The budget will be debated today in Parliament.

“We are disappointed. We were ready to host that tournament and we pushed it until the very last moment. The key reason we lost this is because of the political situation. I tried to explain to them how our Constitution works but they weren’t convinced,” said Kirimi Kaberia, PS in the Sports ministry.

Mr Kaberia’s sentiments were echoed by FKF president Nick Mwendwa who said that he would not vacate office despite his public declaration in March last year that he would resign if Kenya does not host the biennial football tourney.

Caf President Ahmad Ahmad on Saturday night mentioned three reasons that led his committee to strip Kenya of hosting rights of the 16-team competition. Poor stadia was top.

Mr Ahmad also accused Kenyan officials of being untruthful in the course of their preparations, thereby prolonging their decision making process.
He also cited political events in the country.

The Supreme Court annulled the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 1, citing irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of results and ordered a repeat election within 60 days.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who petitioned against Kenyatta’s win, has said he will not participate in the re-run scheduled for October 26 if officials at the election board are not sacked and prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario has remained tight-lipped almost 72 hours since the country shamefully lost hosting rights of the continent’s second tier football tournament.

Mr Wario snubbed all press conferences regarding Chan in the last four months and failed to attend the last inspection visit by Caf officials early this month.