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Sports tribunal welcome, but team should have integrity

Sports minister Dr Hassan Wario finally named the much-awaited Sports Dispute Tribunal, whose verdict, he said, would be final and incontestable.

The agency, to be chaired by former international rugby star John Ohaga, will reduce the number of sports-related cases in court.

His deputy is journalist Elynah Shiveka and the members are Robert Asembo, Gichuru Kiplagat, Gilbert GMT Otieno, Jane Njeri Onyango, and Mary Nyokabi Kimani.

Integrity issues
But there people in the committee with integrity issues. Asembo and GMT’s inclusion has left people in football circles puzzled.

Asembo was involved in leadership wrangles at Football Kenya Federation (FKF) with his longstanding nemesis Sammy Shollei.

Shollei had on several occasions accused Asembo of financial impropriety and underhand dealings.

He was accused of unlawfully kicking out Shollei as the federation’s vice chairman’s post and also locked in other tussles with regional football leaders.

Asembo has a long-standing feud with AFC Leopards after he was literally chased out of the club together with the then chairman Julius Ochiel.

Banned
“Did the appointing authority consider this? Where will the people involved in disputes with the football federation run to? Will they get fairness?”a football fan asked.

In GMT’s case, the former referee has been previously banned from footballing activities by FKF over his perceived bias when handling matches.

He was suspended for his poor handling of an AFC Leopards versus Gor Mahia match in 2011.

He ordered that the game should proceed following fracas, which resulted in teargas being lobbed into the stadium and a stoppage of more than 30 minutes.

AFC Leopards appealed and he was punished.

In another incident, GMT was in trouble during the abandoned Sony versus Gor Mahia clash in which the latter were accused of attacking a referee.

Later, Gor were awarded three points and Sony felt short changed.

He has also been involved in a bitter press war with a columnist in our sister paper Daily Nation, who dared point out his inconsistencies in arbitrating football disputes.

He openly defended his club, Gor Mahia and this showed a lack of impartiality and objectivity.

In view of this, do we expect teams to get fair treatment from GMT yet he has shown tendencies of making impartial decisions in the past?

My take is we should have had people who are free from any scandals. We should have eminent people who can soberly give impartial judgments. We need judges of the sports, not fans.

The tribunal is an agency that is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter of conflicts. It should be independent, both in practice and in its composition.