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Normalization Committee: FIFA letter evidence of double standards after decision on Trinidad & Tobago

It has been written and said countless times how curiosity killed the cat. Yet no one has ever come out to confirm what became of the curious cat, whether it died or not but it has also been held by some that it is out of curiosity that important lessons are learnt.

In the case of Kenyan football’s current state, curiosity leads to the situation of Trinidad & Tobago, the Caribbean nation of 46 grassroots football associations where world football governing body – FIFA, appointed a normalization committee only last week.

Curiosity considers the circumstances against the position held by FIFA that a decision by the Sports Disputes Tribunal to form a similar committee as they did to the TTFA, a Member Association that had a democratically elected leadership that came into office only in November, is of no legal effect to the world-governing body.

The similarities between the two cases are shocking, even suggesting clearly how worse off Kenya’s situation is and leaves questions why the rule book provisions are being applied selectively.

The case for a normalization committee

In fact, Nick Mwendwa’s regime’s transgressions far outweigh everything cited in the case of TTFA. First, it is important to understand the context that gives life to a normalization committee and the legal premise as per the FIFA’s and other applicable statutes.

“In football governance, the procedure known as ‘normalisation’ usually follows a well-travelled route: a local FA encounters critical financial, political or governance problems, contravening its own statutes in the process, as well as those of FIFA’s, which then has no choice other than to suspend the administration in place and take over the running of its affairs,” writes Philippe Auclair on www.josimarfootball.com.

FKF have flouted their own Statutes, gone against the FIFA Standard Electoral Code (an offense punishable in accordance with FIFA Statutes) and defied the laws and constitution of Kenya 2010 but still Veron Mosengo-Omba, the FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer (Africa & Caribbean) suggests Kenya does not need a normalization committee.

Mwendwa’s team failed to renew their mandate through a democratic process but FIFA has turned a blind eye yet they were quick to punish the TTFA that had done everything right as per their own and FIFA Statutes and the laws of their land by sending the TTFA board to the cleaners and ordering for fresh elections within two years.

If FIFA appointed the committee in Trinidad & Tobago then Kenya’s case should have come as early as last month. The facts of the TTFA case are clear high-handedness by Zurich and have been viewed as a revenge mission against William Wallace and his team for beating FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s bosom friend in the elections.

The TTFA case has been called out as a case of vested interests, some quarters drawing the name of Infantino as being in the thick of it using his ‘hatchet boy’ Mosengo-Omba, whose name prominently features in the case of T & T as is now coming up in the case of Kenya.

It has been cited that at the heart of this scenario in T & T is an attempt to protect the status quo as “a cover up” and “is an effort on the part of FIFA to cover up the activity of the last administration and to cover up its own complicity in what transpired”.

The same can be said of Kenya, going by the circumstances of the turn-around by FIFA boys, who also changed tune after their man lost the TTFA elections. It appears that Mosengo-Omba and co want Mwendwa to continue in office to cover up their tracks for another four years and they had endorsed a flawed electoral process which would turn out to “a coronation” in the name of re-election.

That plan was nipped in the bud by the Sports Disputes Tribunal, sending them into panic.

What happened in the case of Trinidad & Tobago?

According to the FIFA, the decision to disband the TTFA’s Board “follows the recent FIFA/CONCACAF fact-finding mission to Trinidad and Tobago to assess, together with an independent auditor, the financial situation of TTFA”.

Zurich claimed: “The mission found that extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt, have resulted in the TTFA facing a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity.

“Such a situation is putting at risk the organisation and development of football in the country and corrective measures need to be applied urgently.”

The massive debt being referred to was accumulated by an ally of FIFA boss Gianni Infantino’s – David John-Williams – who was the chief campaigner of Gianni in his 2016 bid for election as FIFA president.

John-Williams (read Infantino’s man) was elected in October 2015 and was in charge of the weak financial systems that left a massive debt of 50 million TT dollars (KSh778, 851,744), including the equivalent of KSh78 million owed to former technical director – Kendall Walkes, who took TTFA to court and was awarded orders to freeze the accounts until he is paid.

It is claimed that at the heart of the decision is a KSh250 million ‘Home of Football’ funding from FIFA out of which only KSh38 million was accounted for.

Keith Look Loy, chairman of the disbanded TTFA’s technical committee and president of the TT Super League says the move “is an effort on the part of FIFA to cover up the activity of the last administration and to cover up its own complicity in what transpired, because they knew about it”.

“Therefore, what they’re seeking to do is to set aside a legitimately-elected administration barely three and a half months in office that bears no responsibility for the mess that was left behind. We are victimised for that. It’s a cover-up,” he told www.josimarfootball.com.

“FIFA knew about this mismanagement, they had to. FIFA knew about the lack of correct financial procedure.

“Now, here is the sharp point of my arrow: the FIFA president Gianni Infantino came to Trinidad and Tobago six days before the election to inaugurate the Home of Football in a great display of pageantry, and he literally encouraged to vote for the existing administration back into office.

“But the electorate rejected him (David John-Williams), as it rejected the president of CONCACAF, Mr Montigliani, who’d said the same thing. Up to that point, FIFA was prepared to continue working with the TTFA.”

TTFA elections were held in accordance with their own Statutes “introduced into the TTFA by FIFA themselves in 2015” but FIFA have now included a review of the Statutes as one of the functions of the normalization committee.

“They supervised the revision of our statutes and they supervised the election of John-Williams himself! So they introduced the statutes which they now say there is a problem with. Their other argument is that the TTFA doesn’t have any financial structure, and there is the issue of debt,” observes Loy.

What are the similarities or contrasts between FKF and TTFA?

Turn to the case of Kenya and one sees the same scenario play out.

Former Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche was unprocedurally dismissed when Mwendwa took office in 2016 and has been awarded KSh109 million by FIFA and Court of Arbitration for Sport, which FKF are unable to pay and have been begging the government to help them pay off.

Coincidentally, just like Amrouche’s case which Mwendwa has attempted to run away from claiming the Belgian was hired by his predecessor Sam Nyamweya, Kendall Walkes (sacked TTFA TD) was hired by John-Williams’ predecessor – Raymond Tim Kee – before being fired in 2015 by John-Williams.

The Home of Football project, funded by FIFA to the tune of KSh250 million in Trinidad & Tobago, is a cut and paste story of the Outside Broadcasting van project for the FKF which was budgeted at KSh215 million, of which FIFA gave KSh135 million.

Unlike in T & T where at least there is something to be seen, the FKF OB van has never been delivered and the money may have been lost after British company – WTS Media – which was ‘paid’ to deliver the van went into liquidation and FKF are not listed as creditors.

Further contrast exists in the sense that the disbanded TTFA Board had put in place a plan to clear the debt “within two to three years”, while Mwendwa never came with any idea of how to settle with Amrouche and recover the OB van money if at all it was paid to WTS Media, among others.

“When we came in, we established a finance committee run by two persons who have excellent reputations of integrity beyond reproach in this country. They examined what was there and produced a document, a report which outlined what the problem was and how we should proceed,” says Loy.

“We began by staging a seminar on the State of Play and creating a module of financial literacy for the members of the Board, so that they could understand how we would proceed.”

What are the reactions to the TTFA decision by FIFA?

Colin Murray writes in the TT Guardian “this takeover by the high and mighty stinks to the extreme” and goes on to pose several pertinent questions as to why FIFA would disband a properly elected leadership of the TTFA, impose a normalisation committee and order for fresh elections just four months after a clean process that has checked all the boxes in the context of integrity, free and fairness of an electoral process.

“[…] If FIFA was so concerned with T&T football, why didn’t they send in their financial wizards to work with the TTFA? How come FIFA’s fact-finding team said to the TTFA not to bother to use the ‘Home of Football’ as a revenue-generating measure? […]What is the real reason FIFA removed the executive of the TTFA? And why is there a need for new elections following the work of the normalisation committee?” poses Murray in his column, lauding the Wallace-led TTFA for taking the bold move of suing FIFA at CAS.

What are the reactions to FIFA’s letter on status of FKF?

Mosengo-Omba’s letter rubbishing the jurisdiction of the Sports Disputes Tribunal in Kenya flies in the face of Kenyan laws but the concerns have emanated from the apparent ignorance about the legal status of the SDT.

Stakeholders have questioned the applicability of FIFA Circular 1010 of December 2005 in the case of the SDT and have suggested Mosengo-Omba has ulterior interest in Kenya, which can only be sustained if Mwendwa continues in office.

 On the same day the letter from Zurich emerged, SDT Chairman John Ohaga was quoted by Standard Sports saying: “It appears to contradict what I discussed with Fifa. Anyway, the Tribunal has made a decision. If Fifa are unhappy, they can appeal to CAS.

“FKF runs football in Kenya first and foremost and so they have to abide by decisions of the Sports Disputes Tribunal of Kenya.”

Cabinet Secretary for Sports – Amina Mohamed, appeared equally astonished when she told the Daily Nation that “Kenya is a country of the rule of law guided by a Constitution that recognises Tribunals as a core component of the Judiciary and the role of Parliament in enacting laws as the derivative power of the people of Kenya.”

The Sports Registrar, who FKF had sued at the SDT in petition 3 of 2020 that led to the decision against Mwendwa’s team is yet to comment but her position, going by the submissions she made during the tribunal hearing say where Rose Wasike’s office stands on this matter.

Others who have voiced their sentiments include former Football Kenya Limited boss – Mohammed Hatimy, who has counselled Mwendwa to stop thinking he can hide under FIFA’s coat forever, Bandari FC Trustee Twaha Mbarak, a presidential hopeful and his fellow aspirant Alex ole Magelo, among others.

What can be said of Kenya’s case needing a normalisation committee?

It is obvious from the foregoing that if Trinidad & Tobago has ended up with a normalization committee purely on the basis that they risk going into insolvency due to the massive debt and weak financial systems, then Kenya’s case merits similar action for a myriad of reasons.

Unlike T & T who held elections before expiry of term and got the FIFA nod, FKF leadership is in a vacuum after the of Mwendwa and colleagues expired on 10 February 2020 and even fallen outside the grace period given by FIFA of 30 March.

FKF is in debt and is accused of not accounting for monies in their watch as the case of the KSh135 million OB Van funding from FIFA and KSh244 million AFCON 2019 funds from the government.

If the same FIFA which imposed a normalization committee in Trinidad & Tobago is properly seized of the Kenyan situation and has legitimate interests in restoring sanity in Kenyan football then the normalisation committee must be the way out.

The mandate of the committee should be to run the federation’s daily affairs, set out a payment plan for Amrouche and Bobby Williamson as well as any other outstanding debts, review and amend the FKF constitution to align it with the Sports Act 2013 and FIFA Statutes.

The committee should also work as directed by the SDT (with the Electoral Board) to organise and conduct elections of a new FKF leadership within the stipulated legal time frames prescribed by the legal instruments establishing the committee.   

About Milton Nyakundi

Milton is a seasoned journalist with years of experience in all forms of media, including broadcasting, print and digital. Writing or broadcasting comes naturally to him and he has got great passion for sports, politics, business and law.

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