Kenya’s national women’s team has been labelled as a “victim” of the ongoing conflict between the nation’s football federation and the government.
The team’s elimination from the ongoing Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers is because of a battle over “alleged irregularities” between the Football Association and the government. This is according to a joint statement by player association FIFPRO and the Kenyan Footballer’s Welfare Association (KEFWA)
Kenya was unable to play in the last fixture of the qualifier because of this conflict between the Kenyan Football Association (FKF) and the government, handing the victory to Uganda.
The two fixtures against Uganda were set for 17 and 22 February. However, a letter sent to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) by the FKF secretary general claimed that “the federation is unable to independently plan and successfully execute any international matches.”
The walkover victories secured Uganda a spot at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations hosted in Morocco, set to kickoff on 2 July and run until 23 July.
The conflict has raised concerns over who is running Kenyan football after an interim committee was appointed last November.
Kenya’s sports minister Amina Mohamed established the interim committee after an investigation uncovered financial irregularities at the FKF.
However, Fifa does not take the issue of government interference in football affairs lightly – several nations in the past have suffered bans for government involvement in the sport.
Players from the women’s team voiced their disappointment at being unable to compete through no fault of their own.
“It is unfortunate what we’ve been preparing won’t take place,” Kenya’s captain Corazzone Aquino said, having been training with the team since 26 January in preparation for the Uganda double-header.
The Harambee Starlets last competed in the female Africa Cup of Nations in 2016 and were looking forward to their second appearance. Their captain said the team will not give up hope for the next tournament.
“We keep our focus and keep our hope for the best in future,” Aquino said.
Image source: @ASN_Kenya