Kenya: Media Blackout Lifted as FKF, SJAK Reach Agreement

16 January 2021

Leading media houses Saturday lifted the ban on coverage of local football activities after Football Kenya Federation and Sports Journalist Association of Kenya (SJAK) reached a truce.

The ban, which lasted 32 days, saw leading media houses in the country boycott all FKF activities in protest after a section of journalists were denied entry to Nyayo Stadium to cover a league match pitting Gor Mahia against Ulinzi Stars on December 12 last year.

However on Saturday, FKF top brass led by President Nick Mwendwa and Secretary Barry Otieno held a lengthy meeting with SJAK officials at Safari Park hotel to iron out teething problems.

SJAK President Chris Mbaisi, Secretary General Mike Okinyi and a host of other officials represented the association in the meeting where FKF ceded ground and promised to stop an emerging trend of harassment on sports journalists in their line of duty.

"FKF and SJAK discussed the issues that led to some journalists being locked out of a league match pitting Gor Mahia against Ulinzi Stars. The parties agreed on a working formula where FKF will facilitate the journalists to cover matches and SJAK will ensure that all journalists abide by the set rules and regulations of accreditation," said a statement issued by SJAK and copied to the Media Council of Kenya ( MCK).

"Following the fruitful meeting, SJAK agreed to lift the ban on coverage of FKF activities immediately. The parties also discussed other areas of cooperation and will update on the developments at the appropriate time," added the statement.

As a result, Nation Media Group which also effected the ban on the same day, will from Sunday resume coverage of BetKing Premier League, National Super League, FKF Women Premier League and other lower leagues.

SJAK Chairman Chris Mbaisi told Nation Sport that FKF regretted the events on December 12, apologised and promised to work together with sports journalists for the good of the game.

"To break the impasse we laid bare our case and the federation said the main issue was communication breakdown. They responded extensively on the issues we raised and promised to work together with sports journalists. We have lifted the ban and hope for a cordial relationship which will accord sports journalists the respect they deserve," said Mbaisi.

The seasoned editor also called on credible sports journalists who are yet to be issued with accreditation cards to liaise with the federation through their media houses so that the issue can be acted on.

SJAK Secretary General Mike Okinyi said that both parties agreed on a proper channel of communication which would be used to sort out arising issues amicably.

"Journalists have to follow laid down procedures when covering matches and we have also agreed on other modalities of working together going forward. The issue has now been sorted and the coverage resumes," said Okinyi.

On Sunday, AFC Leopards host league leaders KCB, moneybags Wazito visit Bidco United as Vihiga United host Posta Rangers.

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