What you need to know:
- Harambee Stars are set to face Egypt in Cairo in the opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on November 14
- Mwendwa also faced questions from the committee on use of millions of shillings his federation receives from international affiliates such as Fifa
- The national sevens rugby team is also expected to leave the country on Wednesday to play in an Olympic qualifier but is also facing financial challenges
Four sports federations Tuesday trained their guns at Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, accusing him of failing to release funds required by national teams and athletes to compete in international assignments.
While presenting their case at the Committee on Sports of the National Assembly, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa explained that the men’s and women’s national football teams are unable to honour international engagements in the coming week owing to a lack of funds.
This despite the availability of funds in the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund. Harambee Stars are set to face Egypt in Cairo in the opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on November 14 while Starlets have to negotiate through two 2020 Olympics qualification games versus Zambia.
Failure to honour these assignments, Mwendwa stressed, could lead to Kenya receiving bans from featuring in international competitions.
“If we don’t participate in the two matches, there is the real risk for Kenya being sanctioned by Fifa and prevented from participating in the 2024 Olympics and the even the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations,” Mwendwa told the committee, chaired by Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka.
Mwendwa claimed the funding problem starts when money approved by the Sports Fund managers is taken to the PS, who is the administrator of the Fund, for approval.
“There is neither funding nor communication on our application. The problem is occasioned by the PS who doesn’t want to do his job. He has the capacity but he simply doesn’t want to do it,” Mwendwa told the committee.
But Mwendwa also faced questions from the committee on use of millions of shillings his federation receives from international affiliates such as Fifa, gate collections and the disappearance of the Sh135 million worth Outside Broadcasting Van, a story exclusively serialized by the Nation.
Besides FKF, the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU), Kenya Hockey Union (KHU), Athletics Kenya (AK) and the Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA) also voiced their concerns with Kaberia. The national sevens rugby team is also expected to leave the country on Wednesday to play in an Olympic qualifier but is also facing financial challenges. Thomas Opiyo, who represented KRU, said his federation is never been told why their application are never responded to.
“We are always in the dark on why the ministry never responds to our application,” he said, even as he proposed the amendment of the structure of the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund to give its CEO the power over the use of the fund.
MINISTRY A MICROMANAGER
“The ministry has become a micromanager of the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund instead of focusing on policy. Why should the fund have a CEO who can’t give out money?
“Give the CEO the power to and let the ministry focus on policy,” said Opiyo. KRU, whose assets fell on the auctioneers hammer last week, is in Sh194 million deficit which includes flying the national team to South Africa for an Olympics qualifier.
FKF requires Sh95 million to enable Harambee Stars participate in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers while the total budget for the Starlets to participate in the Olympic qualifiers stands at Sh117 million. On the other hand, AK is seeking Sh91 million to prepare the national Under-20 athletics team to participate in the 2020 IAAF World Athletics Championships which will be hosted in Kenya.
AK vice-president Paul Mutwii told the committee that funds is the budget for the 12 camps to host the athletes as they prepare for the tournament.
“We have never received a penny from the Fund and it will be bad if we don’t prepare well for the tournament because we shall play the host,” Mutwii said.
He revealed that the ministry had failed to give AK Sh17 million for the Doha World Athletics championship.
In a recent interview with Nation Sport, Kaberia suggested he is facing challenges with federation heads over the accountability of these funds and his insistence of directly paying athletes their allowances.
"No change comes without resistance," he explained. "We have changed the old ways and today athletes are at the centre of policy and operations. We have also established clear checks and balances for greater accountability, transparency, and efficiency. Demand for accountability should not only come from the ministry but also sporting fraternity and the public."