Balala cancels Kenya Sevens rugby Sh20m sponsorship
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala Thursday revealed that had instructed Brand Kenya to cancel its eight-month Sh20million sponsorship to the Kenya Rugby Union. He further directed the Brand Kenya CEO to immediately pay the players the 2.4million owed to them.
The CS said the move was informed by Kenya Sevens players’ decision to conceal the branding of their shirt sponsor, Brand Kenya, during the Paris Sevens leg of the World Rugby Series on the weekend of June 9 and 10.
Shujaa playing with Brand Kenya’s “Make It Kenya” message in front of their jerseys, concealed the message during all their matches at the Jean-Bouin Stadium in protest over a payment dispute between themselves, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and team sponsor Brand Kenya.
According to Balala, the KRU and the players subjected the country to a lot of embarrassment following the move.
“I have never seen an employee abuse their parents following a dispute with their employer at work. I therefore do not understand how the differences between the KRU and the players affected the sponsors because as sponsors we had given KRU Sh4 million as advance, part of which they could have paid the players”, Balala said in Mombasa on Thursday.
He said Kenya Sevens were appointed as Brand Kenya ambassadors with the aim of promoting the country over the next eight months in their worldwide tour following their brilliant performances on the pitch.
Under the agreement, Balala says the KRU was to pocket Sh17.6 Million with Sh2.4 million going directly to the players with each player getting Sh100,000.
“It does not therefore make sense to me that KRU could not even use part of the Sh4 million we had advanced them to pay the players part of their share, while they await more funding from us”, a visibly angry Balala, who also blamed the players for being unpatriotic said.
He however admitted that they would be open to renegotiations with KRU but challenged them to put their house in order before they approach them.
“This is a typical African behaviour because I have never seen any other countries outside Africa stage a sit in over payment. We cannot engage with people who are disorganised and cannot appreciate what we are doing for them”, he said.
The Ministry of Sports summoned Kenya Rugby Union officials after the incident, warning of serious action on whoever was found culpable of breaching the agreement insisting the team was well financed for the tournament.
The team is scheduled to resume training after the mandatory 10-day rest and recovery period to switch their attention to the World Cup set for next month.
With the sponsors pulling out, KRU now faces a hard task to prepare and take the team to San Francisco for the World Cup.