Back to drawing board as Fifa rejects ruling by Kenya’s Sports Disputes Tribunal

Back to drawing board as Fifa rejects ruling by Kenya’s Sports Disputes Tribunal

Fifa has overturned a ruling by Kenya’s Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) that kicked out of office the entire Football Kenya Federation NEC, except President Nick Mwendwa.

The global football governing body, through a letter signed by DR Congo national Veron Mosengo-Omba who is Fifa’s Chief Member Association Officer,  affirmed that the international body doesn’t recognize the decision of the local dispute tribunal body.

The SDT that is chaired by a High Court Judge and former rugby player John Ohaga, was established by the Sports Act 2013 and is mandated by the constitution to arbitrate in all local sports disputes in Kenya. 

On March 17, Ohaga found that the current term of the FKF’s top decision making organ had lapsed leaving the SDT with no option but to kick them out in a ruling that also requested Fifa to form a Normalization Committee to oversee the long overdue Kenya’s football national elections.

But in a surprising twist of events, Fifa stated that they do not recognize SDT as a national arbitration body while at the same time called for a meeting between the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, FKF and the SDT.

 This contradiction in itself raises a lot of questions on the competence of Fifa and their understanding  of the Kenyan laws that might now get into conflict with other international statutes and in such a case, the Kenyan constitution takes precedence. 

“We would like to highlight that the FKF statutes do not expressly recognize the jurisdiction of the SDT as being the ultimate arbitration forum at the national level. Moreover, we note that the SDT is not the not the national arbitration tribunal in the sense of Fifa circular 1010 dated 20 December 2020. 

“Despite the aforementioned, FKF was surprisingly subjected to the SDT by its own initiative while it was not obliged to do so as per its statutes,” a statement by Fifa reads in parts.

The KF had moved to SDT seeking interpretation of the law after the Sports Registrar threatened to stop the exercise over non-compliance to the Sports Act. 

However, that matter was complicated after several parties were enjoined in the case and their prayers over the legality of the term of office of the current regime were accepted by Ohaga in his ruling.

But Fifa responded six days later with another landmark ruling that might put the Kenyan constitution into conflict with the Fifa statutes. 

“This, however, does not entail that the SDT decisions are binding on Fifa when it comes to its prerogatives and remit for which the Court for arbitration for Sports has exclusive competence.

“Should the world’s health situation not evolve positively by April 6, 2020, we shall contact you to explore other possibilities including a meeting by video conference.

“Pending this meeting and for the avoidance of any doubt, the current FKF Executive Committee members, including the president, shall remain in office,” affirmed Fifa.

Fifa, though, did not indicate exactly when the meeting will take place but from the letter, it is now clear that the earliest Kenya will have new leadership is June 2020.