Ababu Namwamba asks Fifa to reinstate Harambee Stars to 2023 AFCON qualifiers
The government has asked Fifa to engage the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in a bid to reinstate Kenya to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
While making the plea, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba argued Kenya’s Harambee Stars deserve a chance to play in the tournament owing to the exceptional circumstances in which they were locked out.
Harambee Stars were locked out of the competition, set for Ivory Coast in September, after Fifa slapped an indefinite ban on Kenya from competing in international competitions owing to government interference.
The ban was enforced in February 2022 and lifted nine months later.
Namwamba spoke at a meeting with Fifa and Caf officials in Nairobi.
The visiting entourage is led by Gelson Fernandes, Fifa Director of Member Association in Africa.
Others are Noda Nodar Akhalkatsi, Director of Strategic Projects & MA Governance, Solomon Mudege, Head of Development Programs, Alessandro Gramalgia Strategic Development Manager and Sarah Solemale Senior MA Governance Manager.
“I do believe Fifa and Caf will consider the peculiar circumstances under which our team missed the qualifiers. I request they be considerate so our national team is not punished. This is one of the requests I think FKF should present to Fifa and CAF,” said Namwamba.
Caf had pooled Harambee Stars in Group C alongside Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi in the qualification campaign. The qualifiers are underway with each team having negotiated through two rounds of matches.
Naddim Magdy, a legal counsel at CAF who is part of the visit, says the issue can only be considered after deliberations with relevant department at the continental body.
“I can’t say or promise the team will be readmitted. If the issue is presented to Caf it will be looked at and a decision made,” said Magdy.
Fernandes said his team will meet all stakeholders to deliberate on the way forward over the fate of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).
“We are meeting stakeholders and all the issues you have raised on the fate of the federation and what happened before the suspension was lifted. We shall have a conclusion and a way forward on these issues,” said Fernandes.
This comes amid calls from football stakeholders for fresh leadership at FKF.