The Football Kenya Federation could once again find itself sparring with Kenya Premier League Limited on the corridors of justice following the federation’s move to declare Gor Mahia league champions, Thursday.
FKF President Nick Mwendwa took to his Twitter account to declare Gor Mahia the 2020 Kenyan Premier League champions. The league was suspended following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ooh and Congratulations Gor Mahia! You are champions once again and you will represent Kenya in the CAF Champions League next season. Let’s do this!” Mwendwa said in a Tweet.
The last time the federation and the KPL were in court, the company managing the league won the legal battle.
The Sports Dispute Tribunal ruled that FKF had no power to interfere with the running of the league.
The Kenyan Premier League Limited has a contract to run the league on behalf of the federation, until September 24, 2020 when the deal is expected to expire.
Mwendwa has made it clear that they will not renew the KPL contract beyond September.
But KPL says that Mwendwa is in contempt of court by declaring Gor Mahia league champions.
This pronouncement further fueled the rift between the two bodies in Kenyan football.
Mwendwa, whose term in office ended on February 10, made the announcement barely two days after CAF asked African FAs to decide on the future of league and cup competitions within eight days owing to the uncertainty caused by coronavirus.
Continuation and annulment of football competitions were the options served to each federation in deciding winners of respective leagues.
However, in Kenya, KPL, the body mandated with managing the league, was allegedly sidelined in the whole process.
At the time of league postponement in March, Gor Mahia were leading with 54 points from 23 matches. Kakamega Homeboyz and Tusker FC had occupied second and third positions on 47 and 46 points respectively, each with a match less than K’Ogalo.
According to FKF regulations, the winner of the league can be declared based on the mid-season table standings if all the teams have not played more than 75 per cent of the matches.
But legally, FKF has no power to declare the winner of the league, as this falls under KPL who are the league runners.
By naming a league winner, FKF is in contempt of court according to the ruling made on March 1 7,2020 by the Sports Dispute Tribunal.
In the ruling, SDT chairman John Ohaga found Mwendwa and the entire FKF’s National Executive Committee at Kandanda House to have been occupying the office illegally after their tenure expired last February; hence clearly having no say on the issue at hand let alone interfering with the running of the league according to the statutes of SDT.
“As stipulated in Clause 2 (a) of the FKF-KPL Agreement, which states, “to ensure KPL as the owner thereof has the exclusive, full and unhindered right to manage the Kenyan Premier League in accordance with the rules and regulations of KPL, FKF, CAF and FIFA”, as well as Clause 2 (d) of the same agreement which states, “to ensure there is no undue interference by FKF or other officials or third parties with KPL management of the Kenyan Premier League”, FKF is obligated to respect KPL’s mandate of running the Kenyan Premier League.
“Also, Clause 2 (g) of the same agreement refrains FKF from making media or public announcements and decisions on KPL’s behalf which infringe on the exclusive, full, and unhindered right of KPL to manage the Kenyan Premier League.” KPL highlighted.
Mwendwa has arguably broken the law by single handedly naming a league winner as his term in office is long overdue pending new elections at the head offices of FKF.
Staying clear off the mess, KPL has distanced itself from the development; “For avoidance of doubt this is to bring to your attention that KPL will not be party to such decisions that is contemptuous with the SDT ruling delivered on the of 17th March, 2020 and sustained by the SDT further directions issued on 24th April, 2020,” KPL CEO Jack Oguda wrote to FKF CEO Barry Otieno.
Oguda further carried on; “Reference is made to social media reports appearing with regards to a determination that FKF has eventually declared the KPL 2019/20 season cancelled and declared Gor Mahia FC champions that is in disregard to the contents of the letter dated 30th April, 2020 sent and delivered via email at 11:47 am.
“KPL who has the legal mandate to run the league would wish to be furnished with the minutes of the meeting which deliberated upon the matter in question with the subsequent resolution already conveyed to the public by FKF.
“Your kind and quick response will enable KPL Governing Council to convene and internalize the decision so far communicated,” reads the letter.
In this regard, KPL argues that there is still enough time for league matches to conclude after resumption from Covid-19 recess.
FKF had already hinted at naming Gor Mahia KPL winners on Wednesday after admitting that coronavirus is still ravaging, making the league resumption difficult.
“The FKF-KPL Agreement mandates KPL the right to run the league until September 24, 2020. There is still sufficient time till then to have the league played to the end barring any directives from CAF or the Government of Kenya which can deny teams a sporting chance to determine their fate.” KPL reacted in another part.
The league organizers on their part believe Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya is under control and normalcy would resume in a few weeks, allowing every club a chance to compete for the top prize in the league.
“KPL has confidence in the manner the Government of Kenya has contained the pandemic and we believe that if we wait for a few more weeks, to see if the government will lift some of the restrictions which are preventing our league from resuming like the ban on gatherings and movement in and out of Nairobi and Mombasa.
In conclusion, KPL is challenging FKF to comply with the STD ruling on FKF-KPL agreement.
“Finally, Clause 57 (v) of the SDT Ruling on the FKF-KPL Agreement reinforces these rights held by KPL and FKF’s obligation to respect and adhere to them.”
But while KPL may opt to return to SDT for further directions, FIFA has already advised FKF against subjecting themselves to the local sports arbitration body that Zurich claims is illegally constituted against the FIFA circular that spells out what a national ‘Sports Arbitration Tribunal’ should look like.