Former Kenyan international footballer McDonald Mariga has joined the race for the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) presidency in a race that has so far attracted four candidates. Speaking to the media in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, Mr Mariga, aged 36, said he is positive of garnering enough votes to win the coveted FKF president seat in a free and fair exercise.
He has promised to breathe fresh air in the management of football in Kenya if given the mandate by the delegates to take over from Mr Nick Mwenda, who is not eligible to vie for the seat after serving for two four-year terms. “I have been forced to enter the FKF race following wide consultations with my supporters and other stakeholders in soccer from various parts of the country,” said Mariga.
Among the candidates Mr Mariga is set to face off with in the hotly contested race for FKF president are Hussein Mohammed, who is associated with the Super 8 Tournament, and US-based Sammy ‘Kempes’ Owino. Others include Gor Mahia Secretary General Samuel Ochola and former long-serving Football Kenya Federation chief, Mr Sam Nyamweya.
Mr Mariga played for Kenyan national team harambee Stars and featured in various teams including Real Oviedo, US Latina, Parma Calcio and Parma Calcio. His footballing career climaxed when he joined FC Internazionale Milano.
McDonald Mariga’s time with Inter Milan was relatively brief. Although his appearances were limited, Mariga became the first Kenyan player to win the UEFA Champions League in 2010 when Inter triumphed over Bayern Munich in the final.
After injuries dogging his career, he retired back to Kenya and in 2019, tried his hand at politics. He lost in the November 7, 2019 Kibra by-election. His candidature for the FKF seat is expected to attract a lot of interest giving his shining record on the pitch.
During the interview, Mariga took issue with some of the stringent rules issued by the football body to anyone seeking to contest for the FKF president seat in the upcoming polls. The former football star has asked the FKF electoral board to relax some of these rules which, he observed, were likely to lock out potential candidates.
According to the rules issued by the electoral board, candidates seeking the presidential seat are expected to be cleared by various government agencies.
Interested candidates are further required to present a clearance letter from the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB), a clearance certificate from the High Education Loans Board (HELB), an acknowledgment document from the anti-graft agency, and a valid tax compliance certificate from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
In addition, prospective candidates are to obtain support from a club in the national league for their candidature to be approved.
The electoral body in the rules also demands that each candidate be registered as a national executive member, committee member, referee, coach, or any other person responsible for technical, medical, or administrative matters in the FKF league or club or as a player for three of the last four years.
“The electoral board should, in the interest of a free, fair, and transparent elections, just relax some of the tough rules to enable the delegates to elect leaders of their choice in the upcoming elections,” said Mr Mariga.
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