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RESURFACE OF THE UGLY DERBY: AFC LEOPARDS VS GOR MAHIA!

The Kenya Forum has posted articles in recent times celebrating Kenyans’ passion for football. ‘We are all united by division!’ (11 August) heralded the start of the English Premier League season and only two weeks ago we likewise celebrated the AFC Leopards vs Gor Mahia rivalry (‘Kenya’s El Clasico’, 8 October). Our comments were positive in tone, our reflections affectionate, and it transpires, they have proven to have been misplaced.

Thursday’s AFC Leopards vs Gor Mahia cup game saw the resurfacing of what used to be witnessed years back just when we thought things were getting better. Gor and AFC Leopards fans clashed once again after what had been a relaxed start to the match, forcing FIFA referee Davies Omweno to abandon the game with just seven minutes remaining (Gor Mahia were leading 1-0).

Fans from both sided taunted each other, which later escalated to exchanging missiles, turning the scene to a battle field. Only after Gor Mahia defender Eric Masika was hit by a missile did the referee see the need to end the match prematurely.

Incidents like these were common during the 80s and 90s during which the two sides where title contenders, winning the coveted trophy in turns. It was so intense during those days that it involved sorcery to try and win matches, or prevent the rival from scoring. Gradually down the years it turned from title contention to bragging rights which also saw the reduction of ugly scenes like the one witnessed on Sunday.

The Forum thinks that it’s high time that the stadia board and the football bodies responsible, handle this issue so as to prevent such ugly scenes from happening. They could demarcate the arena such that there’s a clear boundary between rival fans. Objects such as glass bottles should not be allowed in the stadium.

NYAYO STADIUM DISASTER ONE YEAR ON: REPORT EXPECTED IN DAYS, WEEKS, POSSIBLY…

Nyayo National Stadium

A report into the disaster at the Nyayo National Stadium that happened one year ago when a crush at a gate left eight people dead during, again, a match between AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, ‘is due to be released soon’, it was announced yesterday.

The investigation was commissioned by Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Kenya’s Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch told the BBC that the report was ready:  “I believe anytime from now you have the assurance of the Prime Minister that everything is on track and it is left with a little bit of polishing”, he said.

So when will the report be released? “It could be days or weeks but I believe it is just around the corner”, said Oluoch, “In my opinion it is just a formality of doing the presentation but the work has been done”, he continued, and the Commissioner reassured us, “The government will take the report very seriously because it was a committee which was constituted by the government”.

FORGIVE US FOR BEING SKEPTICAL

Gordon Oluoch

Kenyans will be skeptical that ‘the government’ is bound to take a report constituted by itself seriously, we have a long history of this not being the case; the need for ‘polishing’ is also not reassuring, and Oluoch’s total lack of knowledge as to when the report will be ready also gives rise to great skepticism. In this we are not alone.

IF THERE IS A REPORT…

Jack Oguda, the Kenya Premier Leagues Chief Executive Officer, is also skeptical, not least because he says that no investigation has been carried out!

Oguda told the BBC, We have been expecting an inquest to be done. The initial date was in August, but it never took off”.

The Forum asks, who are we to believe? The Prime Minister?  Gordon Oluoch? Jack Oguda? Any of them?

Eight people died in the tragedy. This week’s match between AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia suggests that such a tragedy could happen again. Somebody needs to get their act together.

A CONFUSED KENYA PREMIER LEAGUE

Jack Oguda

Not that the Kenya Premier League can lay claim to a holier than thou attitude…

According to the Daily Nation (‘Crisis looms at KPL as clubs reject fixtures’) the Kenya Premier League Limited landed itself in a crisis after the board decided to reschedule Ulinzi Stars match against Sofapaka and Chemelil who are also potential title contenders. This was despite the fact that they had already awarded both Chemelil and Sofapaka three points because Ulinzi Stars players were not available as they went to participate in the World Military Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ignoring warning by the same KPL board that they would lose points if they played in the World Military Games. Worse still, the KPL rescheduled the match between Ulinzi and Sofapaka to 26th October, the same day Sofapaka will be involved in the FKL Cup Final. Are they expected to play two matches on the same day?

The Forum says we cannot afford such confusion and indecisiveness from those charged with managing football in Kenya. The chaos at the Nyayo National Stadium, the confusion over the report into last year’s tragedy and the incompetence being displayed by the KPL administrators are indicative of just some of the factors that are causing problems with football in this country.

President Kenyatta declared winner.

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