Over the course of the next few posts I will be reporting on the current state of play concerning Kenyan sports, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. I will be looking at how each sport has been affected, what is being done to mitigate plans to restart, and possibly what the new normal will look like. This first post will look at the football, the people’s sport.
The overall picture
When the Covid-19 pandemic reached Kenya, the government was quick to cancel public gatherings of more than 15 people. Football Kenya Federation, following from that cue then suspended and then curtailed football leagues all over the country. This also resulted in the indefinite suspension of all scheduled National team matches that were scheduled to be held in Kenya across all national teams.
Because the curtailment decision appears to have been taken of the heads of the Kenya Premier league Board, there is a case before the Sports Dispute Tribunal challenging its legality. The decision of the tribunal is expected at the end of this month.
At this point in time, with restrictions on public gatherings of various kinds still in force, FKF has a tentative resumption schedule of October for football leagues, with a 12 week transfer window leading up to November 2nd, for teams to reorganize and strengthen their teams. At this point in time, these plans are only tentative though, The Ministry of Sports has only spoken about re-starting ‘non-contact’ sports, with a task force currently their primary concern.
Even before this transfer window was opened, several clubs have already started to shake up their playing squads. KCB FC released 10 players, Gor Mahia lost three squad members to Wazito FC, and Tanzanian club Azam FC. They have signed Levis Opiyo (a goalie) from Nairobi City Stars)
The new league will proceed with a new corporate sponsor (Nigeria’s BetKing), and will see some 1.2 billion shillings, over the course of 5 years invested into the league.
As for the national teams, CAF has postponed the Africa Cup of Nations men’s edition to 2021, and cancelled the women’s edition altogether, in favour of a women’s club champions league. Harambee Stars, like most other men’s teams, had 4 qualifying matches pending to qualify for tej Cup of nations, and it remains to be seen how these will (if at all) be re-scheduled
Off the field
While so much attention is directed to the pandemic, it is easy to forget that the FKF is now almost a year overdue national elections. When the pandemic struck, there was an ongoing dispute over the nullification of national polls by the Sports Dispute Tribunal. The latest developments are that the FKF Electoral Board will publish a roadmap on August 11, to break the impasse. Whether stakeholders are willing to run with it remains to be seen.