Machakos Stadium gets green light to host continental matches but minus fans
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has allowed Gor Mahia and the national women football team to stage their international games at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, but on condition fans are not allowed in the stadium.
This decision, coupled with a lack of alternatives, has plunged the football industry into a crisis of sorts as it denies Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenya Premier League club’s management the much-needed revenue accrued from gate collections
It also denies the Machakos County government much-needed revenue, even as it hinders the local football fans an opportunity to cheer their favourite players as they compete against some of the best teams on the continent.
The players too will miss out on the crucial moral support from the fans.
Caf made the decision while responding to a request by FKF to allow the 10,000 seater facility in Machakos to host international matches involving Kenya Premier League champions Gor Mahia, plus the national women football team, commonly referred to as Harambee Starlets.
“Concerning the request received on August 1, 2019, in order to temporarily use Machakos Stadium for the matches involving Gor Mahia FC (CAF CL Preliminaries) August 24 and 25 and the Senior National Women Team (Olympic Qualifiers) on September 1, please note Caf decided to approve your request,” Caf’s letter, signed by Deputy General Secretary Football and Development Anthony Baffoe, reads in part.
“However, due to the fact that the stadium is not an approved stadium, please note both matches must be played behind closed doors.”
Nairobi News understands Caf has expressed reservations on the safety and security of fans and players at the Machakos facility considering the fragility of the perimeter fence.
This stance further highlights the lack of quality stadiums in the country, a factor analysts believe is affecting the standards of football in the country.
For instance, City Stadium in Nairobi has been closed for the past four years after the Kenya Premier League ruled it unsafe to host league matches.
Similarly, Nyayo National Stadium also in the capital remains closed for the past two and a half years owing to government-commissioned renovations which have dragged on. Then there is the Mombasa County Stadium which is in a dire state.
This has forced top-flight side Bandari to travel 500km and host international matches of the Caf Confederation Cup at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, the only facility in the country now cleared to host international matches.