For the second time in a matter of days, The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has called off an inspection visit to Kenya, hosts of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
A CAF delegation which visited Kenya in June and was scheduled to return at the end of August to make a final decision on whether Kenya should be stripped of its hosting rights due to the lack of progress in preparing stadia, decided recently to hold off until September 7.
But the current political instability in Kenya following the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the results of last month’s presidential poll has caused another delay and cast further doubt over the country’s chances of hosting the 16-team tournament. Instead, CAF has sent one of their senior officials to assess the ongoing situation.
“We have just been informed that in the light of the recent happenings CAF will be sending its second vice-president Constant Omari to assess the political and security situation of the country, before they can proceed with the inspection visit,” said Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chief Nick Mwendwa.
“Consequently, the planned inspection visit that was scheduled for next week has been shelved, with CAF informing us that they will only announce a new date after the assessment of the political situation in the country.”
Omari, who is also president of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Football Association (FECOFA), arrived in Nairobi on Sunday and is expected to meet Mwendwa and Kenyan sports minister Hassan Wario to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.
A re-run of the presidential election has been ordered within the next 60 days, triggering the possibililty of social unrest.
British Foreign Office advice with regard to areas of Kenya to avoid has not changed, although it is recommended to “exercise a heightened level of vigilance and take care in public places where people gather. Monitor local and international media to avoid any demonstration or disturbance taking place. Leave any area of unrest quickly and don’t attempt to watch or photograph it.”
The Kenyan Government, through Sports Permanent Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, said CAF inspectors should not worry, commenting: “What is happening in Kenya is a normal political process that must be completed and it does not affect the day-to-day running of the Government and normal life. We welcome them any time they feel is okay for the process”
“Our obligations to international duties remain on track. We bid for CHAN and are determined to host it,” he added.
According to Kaberia, the country is ready for the inspection and that work has started in all the venues that are supposed to host the tournament.
Kenya has identified five stadiums to host the January 12 to February 4 championship, which is reserved exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues.
Although the news is reported as a set-back for Kenya’s chances of retaining the hosting rights to the CHAN tournament, it has been separately reported that the government took over Meru Kinoru Stadium on September 1 and Sh892 million has been unlocked for the refurbishment.
Sports Kenya Chairman Fred Muteti said he asked the contractor to work round the clock to meet the tight deadlines. Whilst the publicly given reason for the CAF inspection delay may be a little thin, it seems the extra time may give Kenya a better chance of passing the inspection when it eventually comes.
Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Voire, Guinea, Zambia, Uganda, Morocco, Libya, Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, and Namibia are all through to the finals schedule to start on the 12th of January 2018.