World football’s governing body FIFA has ordered Kenya to have an 18-team top flight league from 2017 and subsequent season as it attempts to end a two-year feud between the local federation and the company that manages the top-flight competition.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) have been involved in a tussle over the number of teams in the country’s top flight whose 2016 season concludes on November 19 with the former rooting for an expansion to 18 clubs and the latter insisting on keeping the current 16-team format, reports Xinhua.
FKF President Nick Mwendwa confirmed on Wednesday that he has received a response from FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura after writing to seek guidance over the impasse where the world body has directed KPL to adopt an 18-team format.
“We know that the FKF has wanted to increase the number of teams competing in the top-tier league, namely the KPL, from 16 clubs to 18 clubs for the last two years and we are also aware of the failed attempts to settle the situation via a memorandum of understanding (MoU) despite the involvement of Kwesi Nyantakyi,” part of Samoura’s letter read.
Commenting on the latest development, Mwendwa struck a conciliatory tone saying he would summon the KPL leadership over the weekend to resolve the matter through dialogue.
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“It’s an opportunity to correct the situation with KPL and we have nothing to celebrate. It’s just to say guys something is not right so let’s fix it. I hope they will accept our recommendations on how we want to fix it,” Mwendwa added.
Both FIFA and the federation boss urged KPL to withdraw the case they have lodged against the expansion of the league from the Sports Dispute Tribunal (SDT) — the judicial body set up in Kenya to resolve disputes in sport.
On Monday, the SDT adjourned the case to November 22 to allow the KPL to study the replying affidavit from FKF that claimed the league management company was operating illegally since it had not conformed to the Sports Act of 2013, the country’s law that overseas sports administration.
In March 2014, the KPL was suspended for two-weeks when the FKF then led by Sam Nyamweya obtained a court injunction against the top flight league when a bid to expand it to 18 teams was shot down by its governing council.
Nyamweya further took the unprecedented step of promoting 14 second-tier teams to the top flight to join the four he had earlier elevated and renamed the competition FKF Premier League.
However, the High Court threw out the injunction as talks mediated by FIFA ruled KPL to remain the top domestic club competition in its 16-team format with the rival FKF Premier League designated as the second tier.