Kenya: Will Football Breathe Again Under New Man Ababu At Kencom House?

28 September 2022

Nairobi — Ababu Namwamba walks into Kencom House, once his nomination as new Cabinet Secretary for Youth, Sports and the Arts is validated by Parliament, with a massive intray, top on the list being the current football mess in the country.

Kenyan football has turned into the proverbial Tower of Babel over the last one year, since the decision by outgoing CS Amina Mohamed to disband the Federation and replace it with a Caretaker Committee which later morphed into a Transition Committee.

The decision attracted a suspension from world governing body FIFA, who clearly stated it would not be lifted until the elected officials were allowed back in.

Kenya in turn missed out on the qualifiers of the Africa Women's Cup of Nations, the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and Africa Nations Championships while the Under-17 and Under-23 teams have also missed out on qualifiers for continental age-grade tournaments.

Club football has also suffered, with Tusker FC and Vihiga Queens missing out on the Champions League.

A ruling by the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT)early last month that the Transition and Caretaker committees did not have legal mandate to constitute judicial bodies and committees to run the leagues further put the legitimacy of the top three national leagues last season into question.

Now what awaits Namwamba, a man not new to Kencom House?

On Monday, a day prior to President William Ruto's address to name his Cabinet, Namwamba tweeted;

"Harambee Stars stand banned by FIFA from international football since 25 Feb 2022. They are missing out on AFCON 2023 qualifiers among other competitions. FIFA should be robustly engaged to resolve the impasse even as this ban period is smartly used to reinvigorate local football."

His first task will be to engage FIFA on Kenya's suspension, and this in the long run will mean the return of Nick Mwendwa's office, as it was the bare and irreducible minimum fronted by FIFA.

Already, there have been signs of the return of Mwendwa's office after they were allowed back to their Kandanda House headquarters, though police officers took control of it a day later.

Mwendwa and his office are confident that with a new man in place, they will be back in office and they will take back control of running football affairs in the country.

The current Transition Committee's mandate ends on October 16 and by this time, Namwamba might have already taken oath of office and will be ready to swing in to work.

What happens when Mwendwa and his team take office?

At the moment, all 18 FKF Premier League clubs have vowed not to participate in a league organised by the Transition Committee, with games set to start this Saturday.

The Committee, through Secretariat head Linda Ogutu already communicated fixtures for the season to teams.

If Mwendwa and his office get back to running of the game, then all this might be considered hot air and they will organize new fixtures and register all players afresh.

The Federation runs the men and women's top three tiers while the FKF branches run the rest of the football pyramid.

FIFA is now awaiting a communication from the Federation, through its Secretary General, on whether they have been allowed back to office, for the suspension to be lifted.

Will football breathe again? Only time will tell.

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