The next season of the Kenya premier League will have 18 teams, up from the current 16, after FIFA has come out to back national governing body FKF.
FKF president Nick Mwendwa wrote to FIFA seeking guidance after a standoff between the federation and the current managers of the first tier, Kenya Premier League. FKF wants 18 teams in the top flight while KPL wants the number to remain at 16. FIFA then wrote back through Secretary General Fatma Samoura advising that FKF should be in charge of organising and supervising all football matters in the country.The world governing body has also advised KPL to withdraw a case lodged with the Sport Disputes Tribunal regarding the matter.
FIFA has outlined FKF’s supremacy in the event of a conflicting stand between the federation and other stakeholders in the country, effectively giving FKF an upper hand in deciding how many teams will ply the top flight in the 16/17 season.
Excerpts from the letter addressed to FKF by FIFA:
‘We would like to remind you that one condition of being a member of FIFA is to be responsible for organising and supervising football in all its forms in its country (art. 11 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes). As such, the FKF is responsible for the top-tier competition, namely the KPL, in Kenya, and according to article 17 of the FKF constitution, leagues affiliated to the FKF shall be subordinate to and recognised by the FKF.’
‘In line with the information at our disposal, we therefore deem that the FKF is responsible for organising the top-tier competitions in Kenya and that any Kenyan league must be subordinate to the FKF. The FKF constitution foresees the possibility of delegating the organisation of the top-tier competition to a subordinate league, which could be the KPL, provided the above-mentioned conditions are met.’
‘In the current circumstances and according to the information available to us, the KPL does not seem to fulfil the said conditions and we consider that there is an urgent need to conclude an agreement clearly expressing the subordination of the KPL to the FKF and the delegation of responsibility for the organisation of the top-tier competition to the KPL.’ ‘The number of teams falls under the competence of the FKF and should be part of the agreement.’
The new development is likely to rope in league broadcasters, notably Supersport. KPL has argued that expansion will violate their agreement with broadcasters by blowing the cost of airing matches, so a new discussion will have to be held, involving the three parties. FIFA has encouraged such discussion in the letter.