Angry Kenyans hit out at government after event cancelled

The government on Sunday remained mum despite a backlash from Kenyans for failing to host a continental football tournament despite a promise by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013.

Football Kenya Federation wasn’t spared the criticism either, coming hours after Saturday’s announcement by the Confederation of African Football to strip the country of the right to host next year’s Africa Nations Championship (Chan).

FKF seemed to absolve itself from the blame and instead joined in directing accusations at the Kencom House based Ministry of Sports offices and Sports Kenya administration led by chairman Fred Muteti.

“Unfortunately, lack of up to standard infrastructure to host the competition and the need to improve the existing ones meant Kenya would inevitably play second fiddle to better placed countries that have invested heavily in infrastructure development over the years,” an FKF statement read.

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Both Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario and his PS Kirimi Kaberia, who travelled to Ghana in a failed bid to convince CAF to give the country more time to prepare, failed to address this subject or respond to repeated inquiries from the Nation by the time of publishing this story.

CAF President Ahmad Ahmad told a press briefing in Accra that an overwhelming decision was arrived at to take away the hosting rights of this three-week 16-nations football tournament by an executive committee meeting he had chaired earlier in the day. 

That decision, the CAF boss maintained, was influenced by an inspection visit indicating the country lacked adequate infrastructure to stage a competition of this calibre.

“It was decided we withdraw the hosting rights in the light of accumulated delays from reports of the various inspection missions conducted in the country, the last of which took place from  September 11,” said Mr Ahmad.

POLITICAL CLIMATE

Mr Ahmad also suggested the continental football body was not sure of Kenya’s current political climate in the next months, after the decision by the Supreme Court to annul President Kenyatta’s victory on September 1.

“We have lost a great opportunity to join the league of African nations that have successfully hosted a continental championship,” former FKF president Sam Nyamweya said. 

The unavailability of required sports infrastructure seemed to irk Kenyans the most, considering a pending promise by the Jubilee administration “to construct five new national stadiums in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Garissa, while upgrading existing sports facilities at the county level.”

BOOST ECONOMY

President Kenyatta also promised Kenyans if elected for the first term in office, he would ensure the country hosts, among others, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and World Youth Athletics Championships. 

“Successive governments have too often neglected sports and creative industries,” the President stated in 2013. “As a result, the potential in these sectors has not been accorded a chance to improve our quality of life or boost our economy.”

A Cabinet meeting chaired by the Head of State this past week allocated Sh4.2 billion to upgrade four stadiums in Nairobi, Eldoret and Meru in readiness for the competition. 

This move has now been overtaken by events in the wake of CAF’s announcement.

Continent’s football chiefs indict sports officials for lying about the state of country’s preparedness.

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