Reports of match-fixing threaten to kill the beautiful game that is already at its deathbed in Kenya.
No real effort has been put by the federation or the law enforcers to try and combat the vice that has the potential to completely wipe out the beautiful game in the country.
Despite FKF and KPL living in denial over the existence of the vice, match-fixing is real in the Kenyan Premier League in the country and other lower leagues in the country.
In 2019 Kakamega Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula blew the whistle over match-fixing in the country, FKF rubbished his claims but early this year he was proved right when four players that he had accused of match-fixing in the country were banned by FIFA who conducted their own investigations.
“This thing has been going on for some time now; since last season. I suspected the same in one of our games, but I didn’t have solid evidence, though this time around I got the evidence and players even confessed,” Shimanyula said in an interview last year.
He went ahead to name clubs that were taking part in match-manipulation in the country.
“I don’t have the evidence about the other clubs, but Gor Mahia, Sofapaka, AFC Leopards and Zoo’s names appeared prominently during my investigation on my own club, which I have concrete evidence, involving seven players, the coach, and assistant coach, that they were fixing matches,” he added.
Shimanyula’s claims were ignored by Football Kenya Federation and Kenyan Premier League managers but it definitely caught the ears of FIFA who stepped in to investigate the matter and found four players guilty. One of them was handed a lifetime ban while the other three will serve four-year bans each.
Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa too admitted that some of his players had been involved in match-fixing. After signing a deal with Singaporean company Living 3D Holdings, one of the demands in the deal was that the company signs and pays five foreign players. Little known to Kalekwa, the foreign players would engage in match-fixing.
“I confronted the foreign players one after the other, and they confessed. They told me that indeed they had been instructed to throw away matches, but that they had not yet started doing it. I had to let them all go because I do not condone match-fixing,” he told the Daily Nation.
The same was the case at Zoo FC in Kericho when they sacked give players for allegedly being part of the match fixing syndicate.
“We used to concede goals suspiciously, and I had to dig and know what is happening, and that is when I realised the three were fixing matches,” head coach Herman Iswekha stated.
“They were working with a certain individual on how many goals to concede in half and full-time. After investigating them, we managed to obtain enough evidence and after further questioning, we decide to let them go to keep the name of the club clean,” he added.
The admissions by the three leaders is a clear indication that match fixing is real in the country and it needs a sober approach and measures to curb it.
One of those interested in killing the vice is Wazito FC president Ricardo Badoer, the Swedish businessman offered to pay 20 million to anyone willing to give information on syndicate in the country.
“I know for sure there are people that have proof of match-fixing. It is ruining our sports and I am sticking to my guns by giving 10 million to 20 million shillings if the proof is strong enough,” the ambitious businessman stated.
Badoer’s offer is a clear case of someone willing to fight the vice and ensure that the game is clean. He is offering solutions and all stakeholders should come on board and support the noble course.
A clean game is the least Kenyans deserve and with people like Badoer, Kenyan game is in safe hands.