DEATH OF A SPORT: Chase ‘eating chiefs’ away before they run us into abyss

Mene, mene, tekel upharsin. The writing is on the wall. It just has to be this time round. Even a pit latrine must fill up at a certain stage after we have downloaded waste sans thought of ‘honey sucker’ price.

Indeed, we have had enough and change must come.

Octogenarians are stuck upon our football like ticks and leeches — they are everywhere, like invisible bugs embedded in a chicken’s feather, causing the bird distress.

These are people who shall never let go of us; just like the allegorical character heavy upon Sinbad’s back, biting his neck whenever he seeks to let him upon terra firma.

It is now official that these people cannot even run a kiosk but they still have their names on the ballot paper for the forthcoming Football Kenya Federation (FKF) elections.

Happy will be the moment their furlong straw — planted deep in the jugular of our football — is removed; they shall go to God-knows-where. They just cannot live without haram cash milked from football in this country whose misfortune and unhappiness pleases them enormously.

We do not know whether to weep or laugh at the predicament that allowed this gang to ascend to the summit of our sport. We have no idea what evil wind blew their twisted brains to the shores of our football; we have no inkling of what the delegates were thinking (if you call it that) when they sold their birthright for this unpalatable group to commit treason with the beautiful game.

All we know is that this assemblage is toxic — that this crowd hates Kenya’s football with an amazingly perverted passion. That this posse has no shame at all and blushing is a feeling it has neither tasted nor has the capability of knowing.

Every year, these Methuselahs assault Kenyan football and we keep quiet since they are litigations to a fault. It is this silence that encourages the ogres to go to even lower and more primitive levels; they love stooping lower than even an envelope can go and, this time round, we seek them even in the waste of the filled-up pit latrine.

For how long shall these men of straw run down our game as we watch? For how long shall we be afraid to talk about them and remain powerless in the hands of lazy despots? For how long shall they rape our resources and squander Fifa grants meant to develop football as we turn a blind eye?

For how long shall successive governments ignore the suffering of the masses by doing business with a failed administration that has lost credibility and has no iota of integrity?

For just. How. Long?

We have had enough of this poisonous clique and we must act now since we might never have a better opportunity.

It is not enough that some of the most notorious among them spent hours with detectives. We demand that they cool their heels in the cooler with enhanced municipal smell. We insist that they be vetted and their names expunged from any ballot paper meant even for a village chama.

We have had enough. Must every single match that our national team takes part in be laced with incompetence and suffering of our patriotic players? Must we always beg some potbellied men in order to watch our beloved Harambee Stars play?

Those professionals based abroad pay for their own air tickets, which are never reimbursed; player allowances and hotel bills are never settled comme il faut. And now, we have descended deeper into the lavatory — until we subject our players to torture just to honour a match in another country. We have had enough. Since we lost to Cape Verde due to the bungling of these officials, we have nothing more to lose; we have everything to gain.

We are out of every meaningful tournament till the 2019 Afcon qualifiers and 2022 World Cup. This is not only shameful but also unacceptable for a football-loving nation. The talents of our youth wither at the bud simply because we are afraid of being banned by Fifa. Wait, for deporting undesirables out of our game?

We have had enough. We can dare Fifa, since Fifa itself is in turmoil. The greedy lot that kept our shame afloat with threats is itself under the same investigations and some elders there are suffering nervous breakdowns.

We have had enough. As the FKF elections draw near, we urge the delegates to vote wisely. Vote with their heads, not tummies. If they don’t, then the government must act decisively for the good of the country.

We have had enough. The donkey is tired of being laden with the cost of a few smelly men’s greed. Our football is on the verge of the cold, dark and lonely grave. tilting towards its demise. We must pull it back pronto. To its rightful place. To the national stadiums. To the yet-to-be-built county stadiums promised at election rallies of yesteryears.

To the village playgrounds of the villages and estates whose grass must be mowed by the enterprising bare feet of neighbourhood boys and girls.

The aspiring football stars of tomorrow, who are still ignorant that their fathers and grandfathers in posh city offices are paid hefty salaries to crush their dreams.

We have had enough.

Litany of woes in team’s exit

October 2: Football Kenya Federation (FKF) tells foreign-based players to facilitate their transport to Nairobi to prepare for the double-legged 2018 World Cup qualification match against Mauritius.

October 10: Harambee Stars denied access to train at the Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani, in Nairobi. The facility’s managers claim FKF officials did not book the venue on time.

October 13: Harambee Stars players leave camp in Nairobi West after beating Mauritius 5-2 on aggregate without having been paid their allowances. One player, Nakuru All Stars striker John “Softie” Ndirangu, is stranded in the city. He is forced to call his club’s CEO, Robert Muthomi, to send him bus fare back to Nakuru.

October 14: Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario declares that the government will take over the affairs of the national football team.

November 5: Wario dismisses a detailed article in the Daily Nation titled: “Harambee Stars on their own for Cape Verde game”. This article highlighted at length the challenges in camp, including a threat by foreign-based players not to turn up for the game against Cape Verde if they were not refunded their travel expenses for game against Mauritius.

November 8: FKF writes to foreign-based players asking them to pay for their own air tickets. Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omollo, Allan Wanga, David Owino and Jacob Keli heed the call but Brian Mandela and Arnold Origi opt against it. Ayub Timbe insists he is “injured”. Meanwhile, Stars’ stay in camp at Kasarani is punctuated by lack of drinking and bathing water. Players are at times forced to bathe with swimming pool water.

November 12: Stars players contemplate boycotting the first leg tie against Cape Verde set for the following day over unpaid allowances and un-refunded air tickets.

November 13: Wario, government officials and FKF boss Sam Nyamweya conspicuously absent at Nyayo as Stars labour to beat Cape Verde 1-0 courtesy of a Michael Olunga goal.

November 14: Confusion over Stars’ travel arrangements for the return leg match against Cape Verde in Praia. FKF announces that the team will leave on Monday, November 16, by chartered flight and that all players will be paid allowances before they depart.

November 16, 9am: Players refuse to leave camp unless all monies owed are paid in full and, 45 minutes later, FKF CEO Michael Esakwa arrives with “sacks of cash” and pays them.

10am: Team leaves Kasarani for Wilson Airport.

Midday: Stand-off over payments between FKF and the owners of the charter plane delays flight for eight hours.

9pm: Stars depart for Cape Verde, a torturous 22-hour flight that ends three hours to kick-off.

November 17: Nyamweya and Ministry of Sports officials questioned by police over the team’s shoddy preparations. Later in the evening, Stars lose 2-0 to Cape Verde to exit the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION