The football boss now thanks the Kenyan government for lifting the ban on contact sports and promises a good 2020-21 season
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has thanked the Kenyan government for lifting the ban on contact sports and further said they are ready to kick-off the Premier League season on Saturday.
Kenyan football was banned by the government in mid-March following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a move which forced FKF to end the 2019-20 season prematurely and declare Gor Mahia the champions.
Since then, there has been no league action, with only the national team Harambee Stars managing to play a friendly match against Zambia, but behind closed doors, and also tackle Comoros in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.
While FKF had shown their willingness to start the season, the government through the Ministry of Sports also announced on Friday they have allowed the league to start.
A letter from the Ministry of Sports signed by CS Amina Mohamed and obtained by Goal confirmed the resumption of contact sports by stating: “The Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Heritage in consultation with the Ministry of Health has revised the resumption of sports guidelines as follows.
“All contact sports [low-risk] may resume their Premier [tier] and team Kenya activities. All other activities related to lower-level leagues remain suspended.”
Mwendwa has now thanked the government for their quick gesture saying they are ready to organize the best league ever and also will adhere to the Covid-19 protocols set up by the Ministry of Health.
“The long wait is now over and for me, this is the biggest day in Kenyan football,” Mwendwa told Goal on Saturday. “We had really waited for the day local football will return and I want to thank CS Amina [Mohamed] for having faith in us and her gesture to allow football to resume.
“We will make sure all protocols as outlined by the Ministry of Health [in regards to Covid-19] are followed all the time when we have matches, be it in Nairobi or outside the City, we will follow them and clubs have been told what to do.”
Mwendwa has further reiterated no fans will be allowed to watch the matches as per the government guidelines and warned that match referees have been instructed not to start any match if fans are in the stadium.
“I want to be very clear, no fans will be allowed into the stadium be it in Nairobi or matches being played outside the City,” Mwendwa continued. “We don’t want fans crowding the stadium, trying to come to watch matches, they will not be allowed in.
“We are under clear instructions to play football without fans and that is what we will do, and to be clear, should fans of any team try to come to the stadium to watch any match, then the referee of the day is under instructions not to kick-off the match, the match will not start.
“We don’t know how long the league will be played without fans but that is the situation, for now, clubs must inform fans of the development, we don’t want to have problems, only players, a few club officials and journalists covering matches will be allowed into the match venues.
“My humble appeal to the fans is to urge them to grab their StarTimes decoder and watch matches live from their homes, the matches will be live on both packages, aerial and satellite, and will also apply if you have a StarTimes App, so get ready so as you don’t miss the action.”
Three matches will open the season on Saturday with AFC Leopards versus Tusker being broadcast live by StarTimes, with the two other matches pitting promoted Vihiga United against Kakamega Homeboyz at Mumias Compex and Bandari against Sofapaka at Mbaraki Stadium.
On Sunday, four matches will be played - Nairobi City Stars taking on Nzoia Sugar at Nyayo Stadium, Kariobangi Sharks against Wazito FC at Kasarani Stadium, Posta Rangers vs KCB at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, and Western Stima against Bidco United at Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
Gor Mahia, who will be taking part in Caf Champions League assignment against APR of Rwanda, will open the season with a home game against Zoo FC at Nyayo Stadium on December 2.