Friday, July 26, 2013

The Pandora's box that is Kenyan football

It is Nigeria’s foremost towering literary icon, the late Chinua Achebe, who once said that if you don’t like someone’s story, then you are better off writing your own.
The problem is, not all of us are adept at writing stories. Even in newsrooms, the supposed natural habitat of the sharpest writing minds, sub-editors – like yours truly here – on a daily basis contend with unraveling topsy-turvy copies from run off the mills reporters.
I guess it’s on this premise of writing one’s own story that what a section of the media referred to us ‘estranged’ officials of the national football federation recently rushed to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to submit what they believed was incriminating evidence of financial impropriety by the federation.
To say the very least, it was a haphazardly penned manuscript that made a mockery of transparency and accountability.
I don’t hold brief for the powers that be at the national football federation, but what came out of this farcical attempted ‘bloodless coup’ was a simple case of sour grapes after what must have a sensational fall out within the federation.
Granted, the Kenyan federation could do with a bit of some housekeeping, but isn’t it rather odd that the same people who have been in the thick of things in as far as running football affairs in the country should one morning wake up to the realization that all is not well with Kenyan football?

If indeed there is something wrong with the federation (and many people are of the view that a lot has gone wrong with the federation) then it wouldn’t have taken expulsions and suspensions for these accusations of financial impropriety to start flying left, right and centre.
Me thinks all these bland threats by the federation ‘rebels’ to unearth the rot within the institution are just desperate attempts at trying to arm twist and force the hand of their erstwhile ally-turned-foe.
If I was in their shoes I would tread very carefully lest, like in Pandora’s case, she of Greek mythology, all sorts of self-damaging ills spring out of the box.
Be as it may, I highly doubt if all these ruckus on roof tops about corruption within the federation is borne out of public interest.
Either way, there are too many skeletons in the closet. It’s a classic case of different sides of the same coin, if you get the drift. Nothing will come out of it.
In the meantime, as the Swahilis says, Fahali wawili wapiganapo, nyasi ndio huumia; Kenyan football will continue to suffer as a result of these senseless turf wars.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Harambee Stars need a complete wardrobe makeover

Watching Harambee Stars beat Swaziland 2-0 at the ongoing Cosafa Cup in Zambia, reminded me of a story I read before the semifinal between hosts Brazil and Uruguay at the just concluded Confederations Cup.
It so happens that after Brazil’s devastating 2-1 loss to Uruguay in the final of the 1950 World Cup on the hallowed ground of Maracana, a competition was launched by Rio newspaper Correio da Manha to redesign the uninspiring white strip that Brazilian players wore on that fateful day.
The winning entry, submitted by 19-year-old illustrator Aldyr Garcia Schlee, combined the yellow, green and blue of the Brazilian flag. Successive generations of the Selecao, including the current Neymar-inspired squad, have worn this uniform ever since.
Back to Kenya versus Swaziland. This was Kenya’s first win in a competitive match since December 2012, never mind the fact that atleast five of the players in the starting eleven were playing their third straight match in as many days, without mentioning the many hours of travel by air and road.
Given that this was Adel Amrouche’s first victory at the fifth attempt as Harambee Stars coach, the team had every reason to celebrate.

Nondescript kit

Big deal! The only blemish in the otherwise impressive performance was that yet again the Kenyan team showed up in some nondescript kit bereft of a designer’s label. A very small detail but one worthy of note all the same.
Unlike the national sevens team that looked resplendent in their Samurai kit at the just concluded Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, Harambee Stars handlers have no qualms in throwing ours boys on the pitch donning some indistinct apparel.
For the last few months, the team has been playing and training in Kelme branded kit but since that match against Nigeria in Calabar, the Kelme kit have suddenly run out of circulation.
From the look of things Kenyan football authorities are completely ignorant of how big the kitting and branding business is not just in football but in sports as a whole.
That explains why the trouble former Dortmund playmaker Mario Götze recently got into when he arrived at his presentation by his new club Bayern Munich in a Nike emblazoned t-shirt.
Adidas have a 9.1% stake in the Bavarian club, and part of their clause requires players to wear Adidas tops during official presentations.
For his troubles, Götze has been slapped with a hefty €10,000 (Sh 1.12 million) fine. That’s how serious kitting and branding is.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Kenyan journalists have sold their souls to the devil

Word on the street is that some computer geek has hacked into the mobile phone money transfer account of a certain sports administrator and is about to unleash the names of sports journalists on the big shot’s payroll.
As you would expect, this rumour has thrown our news rooms into panic, for many are they whose palms have repeatedly been greased by, ahem, Mr. Sports Administrator.
And therein lays the basis of my gripe with my comrades-in-arms in the sporting arena. Following the happenings of the last few days, I have every reason to believe that professional ethics have been thrown out of the window by a vast majority of my colleagues in this trade of reporting news stories.
Granted, receipt of the (in)famous ‘brown envelopes’ is a standard practice by journalists in this part of the world, but Kenyan sports journalists have succeeded in taking their vile practices to a whole new level.
It is no secret, for example, that a number of sports journalists threw their lot with one or the other top aspirants who were vying for administrative positions during last weekend’s AFC Leopards elections.

‘Secret night meetings’
I have it on authority that, in the run up to the polls, many are the ‘secret night meetings’ that my fellow scribes attended across the breadth and length of the city to assuage and lick the boots of their newfound benefactors.
It gets worse. I am told some journalists turned themselves into human resource mobilisers-cum-chief campaigners for ‘their’ candidates of choice.
I don’t get it, but in such a scenario, how does one report objectively, while – to put it in a layman’s language – he or she has already been ‘pocketed’ by the candidate?
Little wonder then that on Saturday afternoon, Tusker and Sofapaka played to not only a yawning Nyayo National Stadium, but the reporters were also nowhere in sight.
From my vantage position in the VIP stand, I found myself in the good company of only two reporters. The photographers, too, were conspicuously missing. It wasn’t hard to guess their whereabouts.
I thought long and hard before writing this article and I am fully aware of the fact that I risk winning more enemies than friends on the account of this treatise. Yet, I have chosen to bite the bullet for I find it extremely hard to stomach the spiteful ways of the Kenyan media. I rest my case.