SportPesa suspends Gor, Leopards sponsorship

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri display a new club ...
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri display a new club jersey for Gor Mahia FC during the unveiling of club's new kit and SportPesa sponsorship deal at a Nairobi hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on March 04, 2016. SportPesa betting company has sponsored Gor Mahia FC to a tune of Ksh65Million for the next 5 years. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

Betting firm SportPesa has suspended the sponsorship packages of local giants, Gor Mahia FC and AFC Leopards over hooliganism with immediate effect with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) announcing they will no longer be in charge of security arrangement for their matches.

Company’s CEO Ronald Karauri announced the development at a press conference in Nairobi on Tuesday afternoon with federation boss, Nick Mwendwa adding any fan, player or club official assaulting or attempting to attack a match official will be liable to be suspended for a year with the team involved being docked six points.

“As sponsors we won’t sit back and watch our brand soiled. There are clubs that feel are above the law and we take this not kindly.

“We are disappointed because when we signed the sponsorship with the team, they pledged they would take control of  the hooliganism problem but it is clear they have failed. We know the clubs know these hooligans and must take action,” Karauri charged.

The CEO announced they would meet with the club’s management to chart the way forward but they would not compromise their hard stance against the vice.

Karauri explained they had decided to take stern action to prevent clashes that could lead the loss of lives akin to the 2010 incident where seven fans lost their lives in a stampede when the two teams clashed at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.

“That cannot be married with our brand,” he insisted.

Speaking at the same function, FKF president, Nick Mwendwa, issued tough guidelines on clubs and individuals engaging in hooliganism acts.

He announced that an independent committee has been formed to handle all security matters in Gor and Leopards matches and the local titans will no longer appoint stewards to maintain order in their games.

Federation CEO, Robert Muthomi, KPL chief, Jack Oguda and officials from the major league sponsors, SportsPesa and SuperSport will sit in the committee alongside club officials.

“Players and team officials whose actions are deemed to cause or aggravate crowd trouble or incite fans or engage in actions that could lead to crowd trouble, match disruption or abandonment will be banned for four matches and incur a fine of Ksh20,000 for the first offense,” the president declared.

“Any player or team official who attacks or attempts to attack a match official will be suspended for 365 days. The team that the player plays for will be liable for any and all damages caused to the officials,” he added.

“The club whose players or fans are liable for causing the abandonment of a match will lose the match on a 2-0, three points basis, be deducted six points and play it’s next home match in empty stadium.

“In the event that the team repeats the offense, it will be deducted six points and play its three matches in empty stadia. If the team commits the offense for the third time it will be relegated to a lower league and be fined Ksh500,000,” Mwenda went on detailing the proposed stern measures to curb stadium violence.

Countrywide bans for spectators who cause fights or incite violence will be in place with their teams ensuring they never gain access to the games or they will be punished.

Gor and Leopards have been formally charged by the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) over acts of violence that marred their games against Tusker FC (April 16) in Nairobi and Ulinzi Stars FC last Saturday in Mumias where match referees were assaulted.

Both sets of supporters were enraged when penalty decisions went against them with K’Ogalo eventually losing 1-0 when the game resumed after a hold-up that lasted over 15-minutes while Ingwe’s clash being abandoned at 1-1 following the clashes that broke out at Mumias Complex in the 81st.

KPL has since awarded the match to the soldiers on a 2-0 score with the teams expected to answer their cases before KPL’s Independent Disciplinary and Complaints Committee (IDCC).

Leopards co-chairman, Dan Mule was stunned by the development as he called for a quick resolution of the matter.

“It is very shocking if it is recalled the problems we went through last year. We are ready to sit down with SportsPesa to discuss a way forward,

“It should be the mandate of FKF and KPL to fight hooliganism and us to co-operate to bring an end to hooliganism since it can cause the collapse of football in Kenya,” Mule told Citizen Digital.

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