Former Football Kenya Federation president, Sam Nyamweya has finally broken his silence on the FIFA letter that rubbished the jurisdiction of the Sports Disputes Tribunal to hear and determine disputes involving FKF.
Kurunzi Editor, Milton Nyakundi, sat down for a one-on-one interview with the man who handed the reins to current federation boss Nick Mwendwa four years ago, and who has been vocal in fighting the “injustice that Mwendwa and company are doing” in a bid to “rig an election”.
The veteran football administrator spoke ahead of the news that the proposed meeting of stakeholders, government and FIFA had been rescheduled to May. The meeting proposed by FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer – Veron Mosengo-Omba was expected to take place Monday 6 April 2020.
Here is the full transcription of the interview:
Question: You have been quiet since the letter from FIFA came in response to the SDT ruling. Why have you been this silent and would you kindly share your thoughts?
Answer: I have been observing the situation. I saw that letter and I have been going through that letter through and through. It is unfortunate that letter is not up to the spirit of what the stakeholders want.
However, be as it is, it is a welcome proposal that we sit with FIFA as stakeholders, the Kenya government and the former officials of FKF.
What is astonishing is that if you look at that letter, it is more like it is not recognizing the SDT and that is very disturbing. Because if that letter is in good spirit, it is supposed to first of all recognize the ruling of the SDT and then from that ruling we can now sit together and come out for a solution.
In my personal feeling as a long serving football administrator in this country, with a lot of experience i think what FIFA should do is to withdraw that letter because if you don’t withdraw that letter it means you are not recognizing the ruling. And we (myself and the stakeholders) from where we stand, that ruling is the hallmark of the laws of this country.
And that ruling must be respected. Because that ruling is made by SDT which as you are aware is a body recognized and anchored with the laws of this country through parliament.
The constitution of this country is higher than any other constitution, more particularly FIFA which is an NGO. FIFA is also anchored in the laws and constitution of Switzerland. The law must be respected.
So in my view, as much as we respect FIFA, we don’t want to fight with FIFA.
FIFA has to withdraw that letter after which we can sit with government, with the stakeholders and with the former officials of FKF (you know they are not in office now) because if we are going into that meeting in a level playing ground in the sense that Nick (Mwendwa) and whoever he is coming with is coming as a stakeholder, he is not coming as FKF president because his tenure has been outlawed – by law and whatever means.
In this land, when you are elected as FKF president your term is four years.
If your term is over nobody, not even the constitution, not even the president of a country, not even FIFA can extend your term. If you go backward when Maina Kariuki and his group when their term expired, it expired and FIFA agreed and they came up with a normalization committee.
So in my view, that letter which is written by FIFA has a lot of misgivings. I don’t believe that the letter is done with the full consultation of the FIFA president and the entire legal team at FIFA. The legal team would not have given authority for that letter to be written.
That letter would have been written by an individual, I don’t want to name him you know who the individual is.
I remember some time back letters used to come from FIFA, in one day you get a letter coming from FIFA; in the afternoon you get another letter from FIFA and to me this is mischief by some officials.
Question: When you talk about stakeholders, who exactly are you referring to here?
We have the sub-branches, we have the referees, we have the coaches, the branch officials, the media, the government, the registrar of sports. We have very many stakeholders and the clubs.
The position of those stakeholders and even from the case that Nick Mwendwa and company went to court, the court gave a ruling that you must involve the stakeholders and they were told to advertise the case for interested parties to come in and the stakeholders came out – very many of them.
So, if FIFA are to sit they have to get the stakeholders, they have to get the applicants and they have to get everyone that was in court.
Question: You have talked about withdrawal of the letter as one of the conditions. Are there any other conditions, bare minimums if you like?
Once you have withdrawn the letter, then it guarantees a level playing ground because you are now recognizing that the rule of law is applied.
Once you have admitted that then now we can have what we call the terms of reference from FIFA or the government because we do not know what we are going to talk about.
One of the things which i believe strongly is very disturbing is once the term of office of FKF is gone, the only option left is a normalization committee because how else do you run the elections? Or how do you run the federation if you do not have a normalisation committee?
That has been happening before, it is happening all over the world.
Once you appoint a normalization committee, it can sit down with all the stakeholders and agree. Let me tell you what the elephant in the room is.
The elephant in the room is this election has been nullified twice. I have not seen anywhere an election has been nullified twice.
The first time, dubiously FKF and Nick (Mwendwa) appointed people who are not eligible to sit in the elctions board. Professor (Edwin) Wamukoya whom i had appointed when i was in the office earlier was not qualified because the Statutes of FIFA are very clear that you can only serve one term. They appointed this lady from the tribunal, Elynah Shiveka. How can you do that?
The tribunal is a court where if there is any litigation you go to the tribunal. The lady is not just a member but a very serious person because she is the vice chairman of the tribunal and if the chairman is unwell, she is the one to adjudicate. That was the first rigging.
Once the tribunal nullified the first election, you go into the second election. Although we do not agree with most of the decisions of the SDT, the clear mischief which they wanted to use to rig the election is the electoral code which was tailored to lock out everybody so that Nick and company remain as the only contestants. It is another way of rigging the elections.
They did not even want to respect the Sports Act so Nick and company went to court to have the tribunal nullify the regulations of the Sports Registrar so that they are allowed to proceed with the elections.
The tribunal goes through and finds very serious anomalies.
Personally, I do not agree with most of the rulings and if we are to petition then we would challenge the most part of the ruling but for the sake of peace we agreed with those rulings so that the election that has been nullified and the code which is unfair is expunged from whatever it is.
Election being nullified twice, do you have the moral authority to govern? The answer is no.
Question: Do you think that by failing to recognize the SDT ruling amounts to contempt?
Looking at the ruling and the laws of this country, they have no escape route. You cannot ignore the rules of this country. As we stand, Nick and company, including FIFA, ignoring the ruling is actually contempt.
Having been president of FKF, I can never ignore any court ruling because then you cannot hold any elections in this country; maybe in Somalia, Switzerland or anywhere else but it is not possible legally.
From where I am seated, whoever is misleading FIFA or the former officials of FKF, is baseless. We must have a normalization committee agreed between FIFA and the government of Kenya.
We are not fighting FIFA, we can’t afford to fight FIFA but we want the rules of this country to be respected.
Question: But FIFA gave them (FKF) until end of March to conduct their elections, right?
Yes. They accepted the ruling and if I remember well they said you must conduct your elections within the law.
Two days ago was the end of March and there was no election, even going by the timeline given by FIFA – legal or not legal, that term has expired.
There is nobody who is going to give another extension here.
Football does not belong to Nick Mwendwa, neither does it belong to Sam Nyamweya, neither does it belong to anybody else – it belongs to the people of the Republic of Kenya.
Question: It has been said and it is the popular perception that this is about you versus Nick Mwendwa. Is that the case or how do you respond to that view?
It is a mischievous perception. It is not a question of Sam Nyamweya versus Nick Mwendwa; it is about Kenyans and the stakeholders versus Nick Mwendwa.
I only come in because I have seen a lot of injustices and I am not going to stop so long as there are injustices then I will come in because I am a leader and the stakeholders look up to me for guidance.
It is like in this country, we have Raila Odinga, (President) Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi; we look up to those leaders and football is not exceptional.
You cannot talk about football in this country without talking about Sam Nyamweya, or Nick Mwendwa or (Mohammed) Hatimy; I can tell you (that) so long I am there and there are injustices being brought I will not stop because those eople look at me as one of their leaders.
I am not dying to be president of FKF, I can tell you today but if everything is fair and transparent then anybody can be president of FKF. We cannot allow one person to rig elections; one person to do everything for him and his clique to rig elections – that one is not possible, not in this country that is governed by rule of law.
Question: So are you then saying that you will not be a candidate and if that is the case, who will you then support?
One thing is that you don’t impose yourself on people. Once we have got things on a level playing ground, then you leave it to the stakeholders to make a decision.
I am sure, having talked with some of my friends who want to contest, we are in agreement that first let us fight this corruption, the misguided element of trying to rig elections then we will all sit down and have consensus.
If they agree it is me so be it, if it is any of my friends, so be it. I will support whoever the people want. All we want is for football in Kenya to be run transparently because at the moment it is not.
Question: Some time back, i think in 2011 or thereabout, we had an almost similar situation with you with Kenya Football Federation on the one hand and Mohammed Hatimy with Football Kenya Limited. How did you handle it leading to the 2011 elections which you won?
We had more less similar problems, and I must say I have tremendous respect for Mohammed Hatimy, we sat down and we said football is bigger than Hatimy and Sam Nyamweya. So let us now agree on how we have this problem sorted out and I can tell you that FIFA could not believe that I could sit down with Hatimy and agree.
But after that we wrote to FIFA and told them that we had agreed because we don’t want to ruin our children and the players so we want this matter sorted out.
We said all clubs in the country must vote and when I won, there was nobody complaining; all my opponents accepted the results of that election.
Question: What is the one thing that you blame Nick Mwendwa for, throughout his time in office and especially how he has handled the electoral process?
Nick Mwendwa has left four or five federations – the one of stakeholders, of government, a federation of FIFA; very astonishing. It cannot work like that because now, everyone is taking a position; it is dirty, it is completely ungovernable.
Question: Would you be rooting for a similar voting procedure as it was in the 2011 polls?
Let all the clubs vote. If they vote for Nick Mwendwa then so be it; we have no problem.
The clubs which are in the counties, with the exception of those that vote at national level, must be allowed to vote at that level and elect whoever they want.
Question: Please give us your last word as we conclude this interview
My advise is similar to what Mohammed Hatimy and other people have said. Nick Mwendwa needs to swallow his pride, come down to where he belongs and realize the reality; that the writing is on the wall.
The reality is that you cannot push beyond where you have reached now.
Let him come and sit down with us, he is also a stakeholder like anybody else; he has been president of the federation, you can’t rub that one out.
Let us give him his respect. Then we can sit down with the government and FIFA then we start seeing where the rain started beating us.
I strongly believe that we don’t need outsiders to tell us what to do. If we sit down as Kenyans we can make a decision which is easier for FIFA because we are making things difficult for FIFA by not agreeing.
And when I look around, there is only one person who is not agreeing; all the others have a convergence. So, the earlier Nick Mwendwa, the former president of the federation come to terms with the reality that we have a problem the better.
FIFA is coming in because there is a problem and the person squarely responsible for this is Nick Mwendwa because he is the one who has been running the federation; not the government, not FIFA and not the stakeholders.