Kenya: FIFA Upholds Decison in Wazito Case

4 November 2020

World Football Governing body Fifa has upheld its recent decision ordering Kenyan top-tier side Wazito FC to pay six players, it parted ways with slightly over Sh 7 million. However, implementation has now been temporarily suspended.

This is after the club, through its Chief Executive Officer Dennis Gicheru, wrote to Fifa's Dispute Resolutions Chamber (DRC) requesting for full grounds of the decision.

Interestingly, the club in their communication to Fifa, allege they only got aware of the decision through a report on Nation Sport.

The world football governing body had ordered Wazito to pay Mansoor Safi Agu, DR Congo international Piscas Muhindo, Ghanaian Paul Acquah, Liberian Augustine Otu and Togolese defender Issofou Bourhana close to Sh 7 million cumulatively for wrongful dismissal.

"We have received with profound shock information that the Dispute Resolution Chamber passed a decision against the club. This comes as a shock to the club as no notification of such proceedings has ever been communicated to the club. Regrettably, we received the news of the impugned decision of the findings by FIifa through an article on the Daily Nation dated 26 October 2020," the letter by Wazito reads in part.

"We, therefore, request the impugned decision by the Dispute Resolution Chamber for our records and further action and the grounds of the decision," it adds.

Fifa had communicated the ruling to Wazito via the official contact as listed in the Transfer Matching System (TMS), which coincidentally is an email belonging to the team's former shareholder, Luthers Mokua.

However, Fifa, in response to Wazito's claims have said the ruling is still valid and binding. However, the earlier demand to pay the arrears within 45 days or face transfer sanctions has now been suspended as it works on sending the full grounds of the ruling as requested by the club.

"Please be informed that we will notify the grounds of the relevant decision in due course. Consequently, be informed that the deadline of the findings of the decision is set aside pending the notification of the grounds of the decision," Fifa's response to Wazito reads partly.

"Furthermore, the e-mail address provided in TMS by associations and clubs is considered valid and binding means of communication," it adds.

According to reliable sources, Wazito is planning to appeal the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Sports Lawyer Japheth Munyendo believes this would be a wrong move.

"It's more of PR and face-saving circus. Wazito's CEO is even captured in an interview dismissing Fifa communique as a 'mere demand letter,' fit for his office cabinet. His supposed shock is a shocker to due process. He pokes holes in the mode of communication vide email address. The DRC communicated to Wazito via registered TMS account and email address. It's the communication that triggered the CEOs dismissive attitude of the demands," Munyendo told Nation Sport.

"To now allege that they learned the same is in my view dishonest. The issue of service via mail is neither here nor there as alleged in Wazito's response. If (Im)proper service is a ground they intend to rely on, then it is self-defeatist. Wazito will be embarrassed should the clip of their CEO be adduced by the would-be respondents at any appealate stage.

Wazito have a fair to right hearing, but their approach dilutes the maxim of he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands. You can't place demand letters in office drawers then come to allege profound shock. They have been awakened from own slumber by a body that they would have easily litigated their grievances.

"I doubt it will equally make any economic sense to Wazito to lodge an appeal. I would advise that they consider the award and the costs of appeal too. Lastly, Wazito should also approach the players' counsel to strike an amicable out of court settlement," he added.

The Fifa DRC had warned of a transfer ban of three windows to Wazito should they not clear the arrears within 45 days.

Further sanctions will be instituted if they don't clear after that, but all these now is suspended until Fifa sends the full grounds of the ruling to Wazito and also depends on whether Wazito will appeal to CAS or not.

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