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Did government ignore Caf advice to renovate stadia?

Did the government ignore advice from Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to upgrade Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, and Nyayo National stadia ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers?

Correspondences between FKF and Sports Kenya and seen by Nairobi News suggest the football body made requests for the upgrade of the two stadiums in writing on four occasions in 2021.

Not much was done to act on these requests it appears, leading to the possibility of a ban on the two venues by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

As a result, while Harambee Stars may be handed a reprieve to play the dead rubber World Cup qualifier at Nyayo on November 15, Tusker and Gor Mahia may not be as lucky and could be forced to play their Inter-club assignments versus Tunisia’s Sfaxien and Republic of Congo’s AS Otoho respectively, in a neighbouring country.

In a letter dated March 1, FKF Chief Executive Barry Otieno warned Sports Kenya Director General Pius Metto of the current challenges.

“In an effort to avoid possible sanctions from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) including relocation of our matches to neighbouring countries, we kindly and urgently request your office to address the poor conditions of the pitch, placement of new teams and technical benches, and renovation of the dressing rooms to international standards,” wrote Otieno.

On April 26, Otieno again wrote a detailed letter to Metto, explaining that FKF was fined Sh600,000 by Caf upon realizing Kasarani lacked among other basics, a media centre, had a weak floodlight intensity, and had an unequipped doping room, despite the government spending close to Sh200 billion in the past three years.

Metto responded advising FKF to switch matches to Nyayo Stadium and play them during the day to ‘temporarily solve the floodlights problem’.

FKF wrote more reminder letters on June 17 and September 17, after Caf made public the provisional bans.

The Ministry of Sports has spent close to Sh1 billion to renovate the Nyayo and Kasarani stadia in the past three years, as part of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto’s pledge to build five state of the art stadiums that will aid the country host international sporting events.

Mali and Ethiopia are the other countries that have been banned by Caf from playing their matches at home owing to below-par facilities.