World football governing body FIFA on Wednesday, January 4, banned three Kenyan footballers from all football-related activities for a period of four years.
The three; Moses Chikati, Festus Okiring and Festo Omoto all feature in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).
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They were banned over allegations of match manipulation, with Ugandan player George Mandela banned from all football-related activities for life following investigations into the same case.
Chikati and Omoto feature for Kakamega Homeboyz FC while Okiring recently signed for Western Stima FC after leaving Homeboyz. Mandela was dismissed from Kakamega Homeboyz in 2019 amid murmurs of involvement in match-fixing.
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has found several players guilty of having been involved in match manipulation in violation of art. 69 par. 1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (2017 ed.) (unlawfully influencing match results).
“In particular, given his central role in the conspiracy, the player George Mandela, Uganda, has been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for life.
“Moreover, the following individuals have been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for a period of four (4) years; Moses Chikati, Festus Okiring, Festo Omoto,” a statement from FIFA read in part.
Kakamega Homeboyz Chairman Cleophas ‘Toto’ Shimanyula caused a buzz in Kenyan football circles in January 2019 when he dramatically sent home Ugandan coach Paul Nkata and his compatriot, assistant coach Hamza Kalanzi as he accused them of being involved in match-fixing.
At the time, veteran Harambee Stars striker Allan Wanga who is also the Homeboyz captain took charge of the team as a player-coach.
FIFA revealed that investigations had focused on KPL matches played in 2019 whose results were allegedly manipulated.
“The formal disciplinary proceedings against the aforementioned individuals stemmed from an investigation into various matches from the Kenyan Premier League in 2019. This investigation was conducted by FIFA through its Integrity Department with the consent of and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities.
“The findings of the relevant decisions were notified to the concerned individuals today”, the statement read in part.
Mandela, who was handed a life ban, was identified by FIFA as the player at the center of the scandal hence his heavy punishment.
“In particular, given his central role in the conspiracy, the player George Mandela, Uganda, has been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for life,” FIFA noted.
Mandela played under Nkata at Tusker FC, Nairobi City Stars and Muhoroni Youth and, therefore, FIFA’s decision will be seen to lend credibility to Shimanyula’s past allegations.
The FIFA report comes at a time when the country’s top-flight league is suffering from numerous allegations of poor officiating in addition to a cash crunch that followed betting firm Sportpesa’s exit from the Kenyan market. Sportpesa previously sponsored the league as well as several teams.
Several players in the league have gone months without salaries and allowances, with walk-overs which had long become a thing of the past making a comeback.