SportPesa suspends Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards sponsorship

AFC Leopards fans throw objects onto the pitch in a past league match. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |

What you need to know:

  • SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri said the firm will withhold its sponsorship for the two clubs until they will be convinced the two teams have done enough to clamp hooliganism.
  • FKF forms security committee to oversee Ingwe, K’Ogalo matches
  • SportPesa suspends sponsorship for KPL giants over acts of violence in stadiums

Online betting firm SportPesa on Tuesday suspended its sponsorship for Kenyan Premier League giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards due to hooliganism.

Speaking at a joint press briefing in Nairobi yesterday, SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri said the company made the decision to protect its brand from being tarnished by the two clubs.

Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa, KPL CEO Jack Oguda and SuperSport General Manager Auko Gecheo were also present at the briefing.

Karauri said SportPesa will suspend sponsorship for the two teams to allow for proper dialogue with the leadership of the clubs over the disturbing acts of violence witnessed in the past two weeks during local league matches.

He further said SportPesa will only resume sponsorship for the two teams once they are satisfied that the two teams have put in place proper arrangements to contain hooliganism.

“It’s not an easy decision but it is one which we have taken. Tough decisions at times force changes. We need to do something drastic if we are to end hooliganism,” he said.

SUSPENSION OF SPONSORSHIP

“We have today suspended sponsorship for the two clubs. We are in an awkward position as sponsors and it is high time we did something to curb hooliganism.”

“As sponsors, we won’t just sit and watch as our brand is tarnished. Let the clubs take responsibility and be accountable.”

The bold move by SportPesa comes barely two months after they entered into partnerships with the clubs that saw Gor ink a Sh65 million annual sponsorship deal, while Leopards landed a Sh45 million contract.

At the same time, Mwendwa announced sweeping regulations which, he said, will weed out the vice.

An Independent Security Committee will be formed to handle matches involving Gor and Leopards and the clubs will no longer appoint security stewards for their matches.

On Sunday, Leopards match against Ulinzi Stars was abandoned owing to acts of hooliganism by the club’s fans in the 81st minute barely a week after the Tusker versus Gor Mahia match at the Nyayo National Stadium a week earlier was also marred by crowd trouble.

Players, stewards, fans or official of any club who is found to have caused abandonment of a match or inciting the crowd to violence will also face stiff penalties.

“A player or team official who by their actions is deemed to cause crowd trouble or incite fans, players or team official to actions that could lead to crowd trouble, match disruption or abandonment will be banned for four matches and incur a fine of Sh20,000 for the first offence,” Mwendwa said.

“A repeat offence will attract a one year ban.”

The tough laws will also punish a player or a team official who attacks or attempts to attack a match official.

The charge of this offence will be a year’s suspension while the team which the player turns out for will be liable for all damages caused to the match official.

Clubs whose players or officials engage in such acts will be deducted six points and will be play its next home match in an empty stadium.

A repeat offence will lead to the deduction of six points besides playing three consecutive home matches behind closed doors.

A third time offence will lead to automatic relegation of the club to a lower league with a fine of Sh500,000.

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