Front row: CS Sports Amina Mohammed (third left) and PS Ministry of Sports Joe Okudo (second left) join FkF Caretaker Committee members headed by Harun Ringera (centre) when the team handed over a report at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on May 10, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

There was a lot of excitement and hope when the  Football Kenya Federation Caretaker Committee was appointed after the disbandment of the Nick Mwendwa-led federation in November last year.

And as the Caretaker’s six-month term expires today, Kenyans will have to wait for at least a day for them to know the way forward in Kenyan football.

This is after Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed received a report and d FKF from the Justice (Rtd) Aaron Ringera-led Committee at Kasarani Stadium yesterday promising to make a major announcement in regards to Kenyan football tomorrow including the status of next month’s away 2023 AFCON qualifiers match between Harambee Stars and Cameroon.

A few hours after receiving the report, the High Court ruled that Amina’s disbandment of the Football Kenya Federation was well within her legal powers, thus dismissing FKF’s petition on the same.

The Caretaker was installed by the CS on November 11 2021 to manage football affairs for a period of six months after she disbanded FKF over allegations of misappropriation of funds.

And while Amina heaped praise on Caretaker for trying to bring sanity back into the game, a section of stakeholders feel the Caretaker has left the game in a worse situation than they found it.

“We had full confidence in all men and women in the Committee, we knew they would deliver. I feel in many ways vindicated and I always trust my instincts,” said Amina.

“The mandate that was given to you, was mostly accomplished. I think the one thing that you haven’t done yet is the validation of the constitution and elections of the new officials. That’s something that will be discussed after I do further consultations and will be announced on Thursday; how we are going to move forward, make sure the draft constitution is validated and Football Kenya Federation is put in safe hands.”

But from Kenya being indefinitely suspended from all international football activities by world football governing body Fifa over government interference, to delayed payment of referees’ salaries and disbursement of funds to clubs and the imminent relegation of Mathare United from the Premier League after it failed to honour matches due to financial crisis, the current state of Kenyan football is saddening.

And the suspension which was ratified on March 31 during Fifa’s Congress meeting in Doha after the government failed to meet the conditions set by the Zurich-based body has had far-reaching implications on the key stakeholders with players, coaches, referees and club owners the biggest casualties.

Apart from Kenyan teams including Harambee Stars and Harambee Starlets being locked out of Confederation of African Football/Fifa organised competitions, Fifa-accredited referees like Peter Waweru, Mary Njoroge and Gilbert Cheruiyot have all been snubbed by the world governing body for both the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Morocco.

More so, as it stands, Kenya will not have a representative in next season’s Champions League as FKF Premier League and other leagues are not recognised by CAF/Fifa.

Part of the Caretaker’s mandate was to conduct all the affairs of FKF in accordance with the constitution of Football Kenya Federation, to co-ordinate the elections of officials of FKF in accordance with the Sports Act, 2013, and Sports Registrar Regulations, 2016 and to hand over the management of FKF to the newly elected officials after the election. As Amina refused to respond to queries on whether the government is still engaging world football governing body, Fifa, in a bid to resolve the current impasse, she reiterated that the ongoing clean-up in the Kenyan football is unstoppable.

She revealed that the Harambee Starlets’ failure to honour their final two-legged AWCON qualifiers match against Uganda remains their biggest regret. Caretaker spent Sh200 million during its tenure in office.

“Let me begin by saying that I will definitely not discuss any engagements that I have with Fifa on air. I think that’s bad faith. So, I will not do that. Please don’t ask me any question on Fifa and anyone who wants to find out how much we have engaged can call Fifa offices,” said Amina.

“But one thing that keeps on bothering all of us is how Harambee Starlets was left out of AWCON.  They worked really hard for that chance. We have severally talked about it and consulted widely, but shame on whoever interfered with their qualification.”

She continued: “From the turnout during Mashemeji derby at Kasarani, I think it’s clear that we all love football dearly and that all of us are supportive of its development and growth. I don’t believe anything else could make Kenyans happier than seeing their local leagues managed professionally and national teams shine on the world stage. To achieve this, we must first put our house in order. If our house is not in order, we will not achieve that. I thank the Committee because they have given us a clear road map on how to achieve that.

“The rot within this football system must be cleaned up. We love this game too much and we can’t allow it to continue like it was. We must usher in a new era in this country. That’s why we couldn’t sit back and just watch things going downhill. In fact, I think at some point, FKF offices were turned into a clearing house for corruption. “

In its report, the Caretaker has made a raft of recommendations including the adoption of the FKF amended constitution, handing over of the leagues to a Limited Company, commercialization of football as a sport with the appointment of a director of football, FKF to ensure that all leagues currently being played by men are also introduced for women players, adoption of a more transparent and accountable governance system that involves disclosure of information including FKF’s sources of funding (Fifa, donors and Government) to its members and the appointments of coaches, technical persons and match officials to be on clear contract terms among others.

Though Ringera admitted that the Caretaker faced a legal minefield in amending the constitution, he rated the Caretaker 85 per cent.

“I will give this Committee 85%. The only aspect of its mandate it did not fulfill is validation of draft constitution and consequential election of FKF. Everything else is plain A,” said Ringera.

“We were to do the elections in accordance with the FKF constitution, unfortunately, that constitution doesn’t allow any Caretaker Committee to conduct the elections.  An AGM can only be called by members or the Secretary General on the instructions of the National Executive Committee. So, those are processes for legal reasons we were unable to do.  Otherwise, everything else, we did perfectly.”

But for former FKF president Sam Nyamweya there is totally nothing to write home about the Caretaker Committee as it has not only let down the minister but the whole country.

“There’s a lot of excitement when the Caretaker Committee was installed and we all supported the move by the government. The CS was justified in appointing it which in her opinion was going to help solve the dwindling standards of football in the country and embezzlement of funds,” said Nyamweya.

“But unfortunately, it’s now a sad story because their term has ended yet they have achieved absolutely nothing. They have not helped the minister, government or even the stakeholders; they have done zero work. I really don’t know what they have been doing because people have been complaining about their operations. If you look at the situation now, it’s worse than what it was when they started. In fact, they should have left the office a long time ago.”

He continued: “Despite all the problems in the past, matches were being played even without sponsors. When they took over, they assured Kenyans that there’s no club which will fold because of lack of funds and that no referee will not be paid. But look at what has been happening?”

In response, Ringera laughed off those accusing Caretaker of wasting six months for Kenyans.

“Well, that’s Kenya for you; when you are in public office just know you will never be applauded but always criticized. I have gone through that over the years and it doesn’t bother me. The thing is, do the right thing, your conscience is clear and the law is on your side; don’t worry about other things.  But from where I stand, I believe we have brought sanity back into the game,” said Ringera. Kakamega Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula feels the Caretaker gave its best shot.

“Though we only received three months’ disbursement I think they have tried; I can rate them at 40 percent. Their main undoing was communication,” said Shimanyula.

Asked about if the referees and clubs have been paid all their monies when they leave office today, head of the referees’ sub-committee Titus Ka suve: “In terms of referees, I know we had a delay in sorting out referees for Division One Zone B. A mistake was made somewhere, we submitted the payment again on Saturday.

“For National Super League, from January we combined everything together because we had received wrong details and accounts, we were not able to transact anything. But we have cleared everything. We have no outstanding debts right now. The monies have already been debited from the FKF Caretaker Committee account and the banks are handling the payment.”

Head of leagues and competitions Ali Amour denied claims that there will be a vacuum in the league’s management. The league is set to conclude on June 11.

“Trust you me, there will be no vacuum in terms of the leagues when we leave,” said Amour.

Having been elected the federation’s president after Fifa lifted the suspension in 2011, Nyamweya feels the best avenue to solve the impasse is through dialogue between Fifa and the government.