Struggling Kenyan league makes it ripe for match-fixers to thrive - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 30 January 2021

Struggling Kenyan league makes it ripe for match-fixers to thrive


They say you should always be very careful about what you ask for in life, because you may just get it.

This appears to be the case for Football Kenya Federation, which not too long staged a palace coup and forcefully took over the management of the Kenyan Premier League.

So long-drawn-out was the battle for the takeover which sent the league’s previous management, under one Jack Oguda into exile, that one would have thought FKF had better plans. But no, the rebranded FKF Premier League has been hobbling from one controversy to another.

What began as a dream come true for FKF is now turning into a nightmare, barely halfway into the league’s new season.

A disputed TV contract, unjustified club suspensions and re-instatements, match venues musical chairs, a brief media blackout and now claims of match-fixing. This is what sums up the 2020-21 season of the FKF Premier League thus far.

To be fair to FKF, though, perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to draw a scorecard so early in the day.

It's actually heartening that FKF has somewhere navigated through these turbulent times, albeit haphazardly and with some degree of high-handedness in some cases.

However, much of what we’ve been treated to are unnecessary sideshows that have taken FKF’s eyes off the ball, quite literally. The federation’s initial hostility towards the media was particularly baffling.

Thankfully, it hasn’t taken too long for the federation to realise that they simply can’t run the league without the input of such key stakeholders.

On the converse, the federation’s initial inability to draw workable fixtures and secure match venues was simply a case of recklessness.

If they can’t secure venues at a time when matches are being played behind closed doors, what will happen when this Covid-19 thing goes away and the fans finally troop back to the stadium in their numbers?

My point is, in all these instances, Football Kenya Federation’s troubles have largely been self-inflicted.

However, what is likely to present a bigger challenge to the federation and the league are claims of match fixing that have been reported in recent days.

While everything else that FKF has or failed to deal with have been down to poor house-keeping, match-fixing, on the other hand, portends a more daunting problem.

We’ve been here before. But while cases, or claims, of match-fixing are not new in the Kenyan Premier League, the present scenario would definitely be enticing for criminal networks keen on manipulating match results for financial gain.

A poorly-run league, clubs that are perpetually in a cash-flow crisis, players who go for months without salaries as well as a general public obsessed with betting could all combine for a thriving match-fixing syndicate.

The Ugandan national who was arrested last week in Kisumu while trying to bribe four Western Stima players and the team manager to throw away a league match against KCB may just have been “unlucky” for getting himself caught.

But who knows how many other times he – or other unscrupulous fellows in the match-fixing business – have succeeded in convincing broke players to throw away matches for a pittance?

These are indeed very worrying times for Kenyan football

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