The Ministry of Sports and Football Kenya Federation have been blaming each other for Harambee Stars' money woes. www.businesstoday.co.ke
The Ministry of Sports and Football Kenya Federation have been blaming each other for Harambee Stars' money woes. Photo/ Business Today

Kenya’s national football team Harambee Stars have had financial woes for as long as any Kenyan football fan can remember.

It has reached a point where fans expect scandals to surface just when the team is preparing for some serious international clash. The African Cup of Nations was thought to be different as players were paid but a scandal concerning the tournament resurfaced later in the year.

Kenyan football has turned into a scandal arena without a clear indication of who to blame for this series of unfortunate events. For years it has been a blame game plotting the Ministry of Sports against Football Kenya Federation.

The latest episode in the blame game season has seen FKF president Nick Mwendwa put on the spot over corruption allegations. An expose by Citizen TV suggested Mwendwa was asking the government for more money than what the federation actually needed to sponsor Harambee Stars in their fixture against The Pharaohs of Egypt.

Fortunately, Harambee Stars went against all odds to secure a point from the away fixture. Michael Olunga’s second-half equaliser was enough to give Kenya the point as it debuted its journey to qualifying for the 2021 AFCON tournament.

During preparations for the match, there were fears that Harambee Stars would be kicked out of their residential hotel in Egypt. Getting the draw against Egypt was a fairly good performance for Kenya considering the pre-match drama that was unfolding.

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FKF President started lamenting that the government had not released funds needed by the match weeks before the official match day. At this time in the blame game, Mwendwa had an upper hand as to the football fan it was the government’s fault.

AFCON Corruption Scandal

The Ministry then quickly dashed ahead in the blame game race by questioning Mwendwa’s use of the Sh 244 million given to the federation for AFCON. According to Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, the money was enough to sponsor the team for other international assignments apart from AFCON.

During the AFCON tournament, Mwendwa did not blame the government as al the funds needed were released. The team played to the best of its abilities and managed a single victory. Kenyans were happy because there was no scandal and the team put up a good fight in the tournament.

As it turns out, there still was a saga regarding AFCON and perhaps the Ministry was downplaying to use against the Federation when the time is ‘right’. Mwendwa attacking them for not releasing the funds for Harambee Stars’ trip to Egypt.

OB Van Scandal

However, this is not the only scandal that Mwendwa has been involved in this year. The Federation has been subject to a couple of attacks regarding money expenditure. First, it was the Outside Broadcasting van that the Federation supposedly purchased for Sh 120 million.

The latest attack to Mwendwa and FKF was concerning the trip to Egypt. Harambee Stars were saved from being kicked out of the hotel by their hosts (Egypt) who paid for the team’s accommodation for one day. Mwendwa had lamented that the government did not release the funds needed for accommodation.

In the expose done by Citizen TV, Mwendwa is said to have asked for more money than was actually needed. The invoice sent to the Ministry showed that the Federation needed Sh 4 million to pay for the team’s accommodation and stay in Egypt.

Reportedly, Citizen TV called the hotel where Harambee Stars was likely to spend in and found out that the bill was actually Sh 1.8 million. According to Citizen TV’s report, someone had planned to pocket millions and Kenyans are pointing fingers at Mwendwa and the Federation.

Who is to Blame?

The Federation has been blaming the Ministry for denying them funds. On the other hand, the Ministry has been blaming the Federation for looting the funds given. Who is really to blame for the continuous money woes Kenyan football is facing? Is it the Ministry or the Federation?

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About the Author

Kevin Namunwa is a senior reporter for Business Today. Email at [email protected]

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