Trade power for respect
Early last year I had a few journalists and people on Facebook approach me and ask me to offer myself for a position in the national football federation. I was flattered by the attention but I vehemently declined.
Firstly, I am not interested in a “position of authority” in football in this country. Even though I lead a news team that is more than 40-strong and part of my job is to design strategies; I don’t consider myself a full-on administrator. I prefer to be hands-on and I prefer to be where the action is.
Secondly, somebody somewhere needs to highlight what the administrators are doing and I think I am better suited doing just that in forums like this.
Thirdly, while running football is a very important job; I don’t believe you have to be chairman or secretary general to make a difference.
In a nutshell; even though I love attention, I’m not particularly attracted to power. I say “particularly” because deep down everybody is; it’s just the degree that matters; and what we’re willing to do to get that power that makes the difference.
In the past week, once again, football in this country has been dominated by what is happening off the pitch and that concerns me.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Early in the season Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards played their league match, which saw fan trouble and, as a result, teargas was fired inside the national stadium. It resulted in the game being suspended for about 20 minutes and, when the final whistle was blown, AFC felt that they should have been awarded the game. They felt that Gor fans caused the trouble and that the game had been stopped long enough for it to be called off and for the opposing team to be given the points.
Even though some measures were taken by both the KPL and Gor Mahia as a club to assure fans of their security, AFC Leopards felt that not enough was done.
Among the myriad of reasons that Leopards gave for not honouring last week’s Top 8 fixture, was that they weren’t assured of their security. In fact some AFC officials said they actually feared that their own fans would retaliate for what happened early in the season and cause trouble.
Now security is not a matter to be taken lightly in Kenyan football and it would have been wrong to insist that AFC play when they didn’t feel secure.
However there was the other issue that the Kenyan Premier League did not invite AFC Leopards to any of the pre-match meetings; including meetings where security would have been discussed.
The FKF, meanwhile, raised serious concerns about the security three days before the game and wrote to the KPL to express these concerns and ask for assurance.
The KPL held a delegates meeting in Mombasa two days before the game was scheduled to take place and resolved that the match would go on.
Question to FKF: Why did you wait until three days before the game to get involved in what looked like would be a tussle between AFC Leopards and the KPL? The issues were playing out for over a week but the Federation waited until it was too late to step in.
Questions to KPL: Why didn’t you officially invite AFC Leopards to pre-match meetings? Why didn’t you respond properly to FKF’s request for the security plan for the game?
Question to both: Why didn’t the two of you have the courtesy to pick up the phone and speak to each other prior to the game?
Right in the middle of this power-play was a football match that we all wanted to watch, but didn’t take place simply because the “football managers” were too proud to speak to each other and resolve any issues prior to the game.
AFC had legitimate concerns, while Gor Mahia spent time and money training and turning up at Kasarani ready to play. Fans got the short end of the stick, being denied the pleasure of such a match, not to mention those who bought tickets that they could no longer use (although the KPL says the tickets will be valid for one of the semifinal matches).
My only plea to all football managers is how about a little respect for each other; for the clubs and for the fans?
We could achieve so much more.