What you need to know:
- At the moment, three match-fixing suspects; Akhiad Kubiev from Russia, Bernard Nabendi from Uganda and Martin Munga who is a Kenyan are fighting to clear their names in court after they were charged with cheating, contrary to Section 315 of the Penal Code on March 13, 2023.
On April 18, 2023, the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Sports, Heritage and Culture, Jonathan Mueke, appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Sports and Culture to explain the rise in cases of match-fixing in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League.
Match-fixing means playing or officiating a match with the intention of achieving a pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game, and often the law.
Mueke appeared before the committee alongside the president of Football Kenya Federation (FKF), Nick Mwendwa.
During the session held at Continental House in Nairobi, Mwendwa told the committee that because there is no law in the Kenyan Constitution criminalizing match-fixing, the national football federation can’t effectively pursue justice against alleged match-fixers.
Mwendwa added that the federation lacked powers to pursue actors in match-fixing who are not part of the FKF fraternity.
“Our jurisdiction is not national, so if you are not our member, we can only write to you a letter but cannot even suspend you like we do with our members,” Mwendwa told the National Assembly Committee on Sports and Culture.
A 32-page document prepared jointly by FKF and the Sports ministry, which was presented before the committee showed that the federation has so far suspended 26 individuals, among them coaches, players and referees, over match-fixing allegations.
After the session, the committee’s chairman Dan Wanyama who is also a Member of Parliament for Webuye West Constituency, said he would lobby Parliament to come up with a law criminalizing match-fixing as there was presently no law criminalizing match-fixing. He told the federation to apply other money-related laws such as that touching on bribery, to help tame the vice in the meantime.
Nation Sport verified the claim that Kenyan laws do not criminalise match-fixing and found that it is true.
Nairobi-based lawyers Elvis Majani and Robert Asembo told Nation Sport that there is no law that specifically addresses match-fixing in Kenya, and local federations and authorities have been left to apply laws relating to other money-related offences such as bribery or fraud in an attempt to punish match-fixers.
“There are no specific laws that bar match-fixing in Kenya. Whereas a footballer or any other professional athlete, coach or sports official can receive a sporting sanction from the federation, there isn't a specific law that criminalises match-fixing," Majani said.
"Match manipulation is not defined in any Kenyan law like it is in, say the Australian criminal code which provides a 10-year prison sentence for match manipulation. So whereas individual athletes may be punished by receiving bans from competing in sport, the match manipulators are able to escape liability as they are not charged under any specific laws relating to the vice."
"Many countries in the world rely on their corruption and fraud-related laws to charge individuals engaged in match-fixing but not many have specific laws like they do in Australia to combat match fixing."
Lawyer Robert Asembo agrees that there should be specificity of charges to deal with match-fixing or match manipulation.
“Indeed there are no prescriptions in law that touch on match-fixing or match manipulation, but we have the broader area of the Penal Code which may deal with other areas like conspiracy, malice, cheating, and fraud. Sports can only be served well by a proper prescription of specific particular offences that touch on match-fixing and match manipulation because it is a unique area," asembo offered.
"We need to pass laws that deal with these specific issues to deal with the complexities that come with it. If left to the Penal Code, people can either escape when the facts are tabled before a court of law, or when the prosecutor has been represented with the facts by the investigator, the investigator may hit a snag and the facts may not lead to a specific charge to deter match-fixing."
At the moment, three match-fixing suspects; Akhiad Kubiev from Russia, Bernard Nabendi from Uganda and Martin Munga who is a Kenyan are fighting to clear their names in court after they were charged with cheating, contrary to Section 315 of the Penal Code on March 13, 2023.
Each of the suspects is out on a Sh300,000 bond, with two sureties of a similar amount. The three were arrested on March 10 in an apartment in Nairobi's suburb of Roysambu.
They were set up by former footballer Festo Omukoto, and eight members of Kenyan Premier League team Nairobi City Stars, whom they had approached to help fix their Premier League match against Sofapaka on March 11, 2023.