SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri has chided Football Kenya Federation for striking a sponsorship deal with a Nigerian-based betting firm at the expense of Kenyan gaming companies.
BetKing was on July 16 presented as the new Kenyan Premier League title sponsor for a period five years starting from the 2020/21 season in a deal worth KSh1.2 billion. According to FKF president Nick Mwendwa, each of the 18 clubs taking part in the country’s top tier is entitled to KSh8 million annually.
This ‘timely and enticing package’ was lauded by the federation for loosening the noose on financially strained KPL clubs since the former league sponsor, SportPesa, closed shop in Kenya after tax tussles with the government in 2019.
Now SportPesa’s chief suspects the alleged deal with BetKing is a campaign strategy by the federation regime bearing in mind it is an electioneering period in Kenyan football.
Nick Mwendwa is desperately seeking to retain his seat at the helm of Football Kenya Federation against a host of other interested candidates, among them former FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya in the yet to be scheduled exercise.
Karauri pointed out in a tweet Sunday that FKF should have considered engaging local gaming firms instead of engaging a foreign entity.
“FKF, even if it’s looking for votes, shouldn’t you have considered Betika or Odibets or any of the other 100 licensed Kenyan companies?” Karauri posed.
But in a quick rejoinder, Mwendwa fired back before reminding Karauri of Sportpesa pouring huge sums of money to sponsor foreign clubs in mega deals at the expense of the company’s major market in Kenya.
“Not a fair comment Captain ! Coming from you and knowing that Kenyan football supported you even when you went outside and sponsored others more than Kenya.” Mwendwa replied.
Elaborating on Mwendwa’s comment, FKF CEO Barry Otieno aimed a dig at Karauri for donning Everton FC Jersey, one of foreign clubs that enjoyed a multi-billion-shilling sponsorship contract from SportPesa’s support system.
Otieno said the federation is open to striking a deal with any partner, Sportpesa included in matters KPL sponsorship.
“We are open to offers and willing to partner with any local company, SportPesa included in the development of football. Nice Jersey on your profile photo. A Slightly smiling face demonstrates what you stand for, a true sportsman,” Otieno replied back.
Meanwhile, the whole FKF/Betking KPL sponsorship package has elicited mixed reactions with many football stakeholders in the country not convinced the deal exists.