Online Backlash Wins Gor Right To Play Berkane At Kasarani But Was It Enough?

Mar 30 - by Mutwiri Mutuota for SportPesa News

Sports Kenya bowed to social media pressure back-track on its earlier decision to allow K'Ogalo to use the facility for the CAF Confed Cup quarterfinal first leg as lack of sporting facilities ignited national debate

Gor Mahia FC fans pictured at Moi Stadium, Kisumu last year during the coronation of the team as 2018 SportPesa Premier League champions. PHOTO/File

  • Social media went on meltdown throughout Friday when a letter signed Sports Kenya Director General, Pius Metto, declining Gor the use of the 60,000-seater Kasarani surfaced as it emerged an exhibition organised by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) running from April 5 to April 7, the match day, had been booked for the stadium
  • Many questioned whether the only facility capable of hosting a game of such magnitude and stature in the country at the moment- Nairobi's Nyayo National Stadium is still not open for use and no other stadium meets standards set by Confed Cup organisers, the Confederation of African Football- should be given to a non-sporting event
  • On Thursday night, CAF announced five key players and head coach Hassan Oktay had received suspensions ranging from one game to three following their combustible Group D final game against Petro Atletico of Luanda where the Kenyan giants won 1-0 with nine-men to advance

NAIROBI, Kenya- Gor Mahia FC will use the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani for their high-profile first leg of the 2018/19 CAF Confederations Cup quarterfinal against RSB Berkane of Morocco after Sports Kenya caved in to social media pressure on Friday evening to allow the club to access the facility.

Social media went on meltdown throughout Friday when a letter signed Sports Kenya Director General, Pius Metto, declining Gor the use of the 60,000-seater Kasarani surfaced as it emerged an exhibition organised by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) running from April 5 to April 7, the match day, had been booked for the stadium.

The furious backlash that saw the body that manages national stadia and the Government in general trolled heavily ignited debate on lack of facilities of international standards in the country available for sporting activity with many netizens reminding the Jubilee administration of failing to deliver on their pre-2013 General Election pledge to construct five new stadiums.

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"With reference to your request for use of Kasarani Starium on 7th April, 2019, we wish to inform you that the facility is not available for your football match due to earlier scheduled events," part of the letter addressed to Gor general secretary Ronald Ngala and signed by Metto read in part.

Online fury brew a storm on Facebook and Twitter- the two most popular social media platforms in the country- as the hash tag #KasaraniStadium trended throughout the day.

Many questioned whether the only facility capable of hosting a game of such magnitude and stature in the country at the moment- Nairobi's Nyayo National Stadium is still not open for use and no other stadium meets standards set by Confed Cup organisers, the Confederation of African Football- should be given to a non-sporting event.

Turned vitriolic

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Vociferous Green Army supporters of Gor went ahead to threaten KAM they would bring their drums and other paraphernalia to the exhibition on match day as the outcry turned vitriolic.

Later, Sports Kenya backtracked and through another communication availed to the media, confirmed the record 17-time domestic league winners who made the Confed Cup quarters by finishing second in Group D of the pool stages would indeed Kasarani.

"We wish to inform you that upon further deliberations, we have requested the client who had fully booked and paid for the venue to end their exhibition on 6th April, 2019 to allow your match to go on 7th April, 2019," the letter yet again signed by Metto stated.

Sports Kenya further apportioned blame on the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) champions for failing to serve them adequate notice of their intention to host their Confed Cup fixture at Kasarani besides warning them against acts of vandalism on match day.

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 "The Board recommends that you take extra caution and deploy adequate security to ensure no damages occur in the facility as previously experienced. You are also expected to comply fully with the Board's terms and conditions," the communication this time addressed to club chairman, Ambrose Rachier, added.

Earlier in a press release, Metto slammed K'Ogalo for sparking the online backlash before eventually backing down and allowing the glamour club that is the first in Kenyan history to make the last eight of the Confed Cup since the tournament changed into its current form in 2002.

"KAM began negotiations with Sports Kenya sometime last year regarding the use of Kasarani Stadium for an Expo. After settling on Kasarani as a suitable venue, KAM confirmed the event for 1st to 7th April 2019 and made the requisite payment for the facility on 6th February, 2019.

Properly planned

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"Gor Mahia on the other hand wrote to Sports Kenya on 26th March 2019 requesting to use the Stadium for CAF Confederations Cup against RSB Berkane of Morocco on 7th April, 2019. SK wrote back to Gor Mahia on 27th March, 2019 informing them the Stadium was not available on the date requested," the press release claimed.

Gor Mahia FC striker, Jacques Tuyisenge, salutes the crowd after scoring against Zamalek FC in their Group D CAF Confederations Cup tie at Kasarani. He is suspended for both legs of their quarterfinal against Berhane. PHOTO/File

"It should be noted that Gor Mahia failed to properly plan for the match by not making even a tentative booking that would have secured the date of the match.

"We wish to appeal to Gor Mahia and all our regular clients to either provide us with their calendar of events or make early bookings to avoid such inconveniences," Sports Kenya fired back at the SPL champions.

Some online users failed to swallow that defending Gor by stating they could not have envisaged going deep in the second tier tournament, hence their need to use any facility depends on how their performances pan out in competition.

Sports Kenya did not explain in their communication what will happen to Gor and Berhane on April 6 since it is a CAF requirement that teams competing in their competitions to feel the match venue on the eve of their fixture.

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It appears this debate is not over just yet.

The face-off between Gor and Sports Kenya is the latest talking point in their chaotic build-up to the Berkane showdown.

On Thursday night, CAF announced five key players and head coach Hassan Oktay had received suspensions ranging from one game to three following their combustible Group D final game against Petro Atletico of Luanda where the Kenyan giants won 1-0 with nine-men to advance.

Competition top scorer, Jacques Tuyisenge, midfielder Ernest Wendo, goal-keeper Fredrick Odhiambo as well as defenders, captain Harun Shakava and Shafik Batambuze will all miss the opening leg of their quarterfinal.

Of the quartet, only Shakava and Oktay will be available for the second leg in Morocco.