Harambee Stars risk exclusion from 2022 World Cup qualifiers

Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche during their Cup of Nation Qualifier match against Comoros at Nyayo stadium, Nairobi on 18-05-2015.[PHOTO COURTESY]

Harambee Stars will be excluded from 2022 World Cup qualifiers on the midnight of April 24 if buck-passing Football Kenya Federation (FKF) will not have paid in full former coach, Adel Amrouche, Sh109million, the Fifa Disciplinary Committee said yesterday.

The 30-day reprieve for the leaderless FKF, following Sports Disputes Tribunal’s affirmation on March 17 of the expiry of term of office of its Executive Committee, may count for less if no urgent intervention is taken to avert the crisis.

Without an a National Executive Committee, whose term expired on February 10, no legally binding decision can be made by the FKF Secretariat, a scenario that could set the stage for a Harambee Stars apocalypse come April 24.

In a terse warning in its decision yesterday, the Fifa Disciplinary Committee said: “If the payment is not made to the creditor (Amrouche) and proof of such payment is not provided to the secretariat to the Fifa Disciplinary Committee by the deadline, the present matter will, upon request of the Creditor, be re-submitted to the Disciplinary Committee to impose harsher sanctions on the Football Kenya Federation. The sanctions may lead, amongst others, to an expulsion from Fifa competitions.”

Yesterday, FKF CEO Barry Otieno declined to talk to Standard Sports when asked the available options given the absence of a substantive office. A livid Otieno only said: “As a Federation, we have decided not to talk or grant interviews to Standard Media Group, may be until after the elections.”

World football governing body, Fifa, is currently studying a request by the Sports Disputes Tribunal to form a Normalization Committee after it twice found FKF unable to deliver a transparent and credible election after fiddling with eligibility criteria.

Fifa had given FKF until March 30 to conduct elections in accordance with the Sports Tribunal’s ruling rendered on December 3 last year. The elections, however, were struck down by the Tribunal, which said: “The eligibility criteria set out in the Electoral Code finds no support in either the Constitution of Kenya, the Sports Act or the FKF Constitution 2017 and is accordingly null and void.”

The Tribunal also ruled: “For the avoidance of doubt, the term of office of the present FKF NEC is now at an end.”

This, and Fifa Disciplinary Committee’s verdict yesterday leaves Harambee Stars in danger of being evicted from the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, especially after the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amb.Amina Mohamed said recently the government could not pay for the federations mistakes.

“This has nothing to do with government,” Amb. Amina said on March 11.

She added at the time: “No government in its right senses would fork out Sh109 million to pay an individual for the mistakes of an irresponsible federation. I don’t understand it.”

The CS took issue with the casual manner FKF had managed the coach’s case.

“Why, for instance, did they let go of the coach without consulting the government. And if after losing the case, why did they appeal knowing the consequences of such action given the gravity of the case? she said.

Yesterday, Fifa Disciplinary Committee was categorical in its decision. “The Football Kenya Federation is found guilty of failing to comply in full with the Arbitral award rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on September 19, 2019, partially confirming the decision of the Single Judge of the Players’ Status Committee on August 29, 2017.”

FKF CEO Otieno insisted the previous office fired Amrouche even as former FKF president Sam Nyamweya maintained a letter at the Ministry and FKF files dated February 5, 2016 reinstated the Belgian tactician.