The Fifa suspension offers Kenya a great opportunity to rethink and rebuild

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga celebrates his goal with Joseph Okumu and Richard Odada during the second round of FIFA World Cup Qualifying at Nyayo National Stadium on Monday November 15, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

It’s been a hectic week for the world and even more so for the Kenyans who don’t know what to get excited about as there have been so many events to excite their collective goat.

Local politicians, as usual, have both annoyed and agitated her in equal measure, and mostly what has left her even more confused.

It can be argued that it is excitement that drives Kenyans to vote for politicians who never deliver on their promises, or those who bully them in broad daylight.

Ideally, when it comes to voting, we’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, and so we end up with people whose actions annoy us, even if they divide us and let us talk past each other.

In short, we are not good voters and the consequences of our poor choices can be seen in all areas of business and life, including sport and even more so football where we are at the bottom.

This week, our poor decision-making came back to bite us when world football’s governing body, Fifa, suspended Kenyans from all international football activity.

Government interference in the activities of the Football Association of Kenya has angered Fifa, which was dissolved late last year and replaced by a transitional committee.

Fifa wants the Ministry of Sport to overturn this decision – ideally so that the committee it has set up can be dissolved and football affairs returned to the federation.

The dissolution of the association was to be expected, as was the suspension by Fifa.

It was a matter of when, not if, because in football everything went in one direction: down.

But those responsible for FKF didn’t see it that way. They said they were at their best and there are Kenyans who were level with them but their poor results were visible around the world.

They had a lot of excuses and one they keep babbling about is that a suspension from Fifa will kill Kenyan football so they have to stay in office.

This is sad and at the same time ridiculous because they had the time and goodwill to revive Kenyan football but continued to stifle it and it can be argued that by disbanding the federation the government prevented them from killing and completely shutting down buried Kenyan football.

It’s no lie that the government itself has failed to do justice to Kenyan athletes in the broader sense of the word and to sport in general, but the move to disband the federation earned them some praise.

However, those who felt the association was on the right track were not amused – not because they love Kenyan football, but because their selfish interests and underhanded deals were coming to an end.

The goal was to bring sanity back to Kenyan football, a cause that has eluded successive administrations of the federation because they run it like a personal team.

The narrative that a FIFA ban will lead to misery among footballers is a myth, as footballers in Kenya know nothing but suffering and are encouraged to embrace it.

It’s an open secret that FA officials don’t care much about player welfare, both at club and national team level.

Well, it is the clubs responsibility to look after their players but the FA is the final authority so they should give instructions and not throw tantrums when held accountable for the welfare of footballers across the country.

Funds intended to boost the game at all levels are largely misappropriated, which has to do with the few sponsorship deals that are signed in the dark and kept under a veil of secrecy until they come to an abrupt end.

Well-meaning sponsors who want to come on board are not welcome because they want value for money and won’t sign underhanded deals because they have brands to protect.

Unfortunately, Kenyan football is run by greedy and shameless people who not only live in the past and lack an understanding of sport management in a modern world, but are also not intellectually sophisticated to understand that there is more at stake than that what is happening on the pitch .

Even if the government itself fiddles around with sport most of the time, the defunct federation had to take a break because it was no different from the office it replaced.

While the Fifa ban will cause heartache and delay career progression for young talents and even older players, it offers Kenya a chance to reflect on how to rebuild Kenyan football and bring new ways of thinking.

And no matter how bad things get during the period of Kenya’s suspension, they can never get worse than during the rule of the dissolved federation. That was the deepest of the deepest.

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