FIFA bans Kenya: Its sanctions target the vulnerable

FIFA bans Kenya from international football competition, it should have done the same with Italy.
Italy’s league always seems to have an extra-curricular aspect to it. The Italian Football Federation and the Serie’s top clubs seem to be more interested in retaining power by any means possible rather than playing football. Over the summer the Italian Serie went through an unseemly imbroglio that had Luciano Moggi, the Juventus chairman resigning over match fixing allegations. Juventus was relegated and three other clubs AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Lazio suffered point deductions. Italy’s stock plummeted so deep that it had the Vatican wringing their hands and questioning the beautiful game.
In all that brouhaha the FIFA did not have much to say, let alone censure the Italian Football Federation. In fact, the FIFA has been instrumental in further reducing the sentences of the club to the point where it amounts to little more than a tokenism, a slap on the wrist.
The Italian government stepped in when politicians worried about their fate of their teams (Slivio Berlusconi owns AC Milan), targeted it as a scandal that was specific to Juventus with the other teams as innocent bystanders. The motivating factor seems less to do with cleaning house than actually trying to push their clubs ahead. The scandal had the NY Times and Washington Post reporting extensively on it, in a country where people consider football as defined by Mia Hamm and the women’s national team. Or where macho sports writers denigrate it.
It seemed a threshold had been crossed that would have had FIFA ban Italy from international competition till they cleaned their house. However, this is Italy, a football powerhouse where politicos own clubs and influence FIFA elections that keep Sepp Blatter in power. The World Cup also came in at a serendipitious time for the Italian team that managed to do so well despite the players not knowing what their fate would be till the dust settled. Thirteen of the 23 man squad played for teams that were investigated. The Serie also has many players from other national teams including Zlatan Ibrahamovic, of Sweden, who were picked up for questioning for allegedly playing a part in the scandal. This was not just a domestic league scandal, it impacted many other countries.
Consider what the FIFA has done to Kenya: It has banned Kenya from participating in international football competition till the Kenya Football Federation stops its footdragging and implements one league with 18 teams. Kenyan football presently has two leagues, the KFF Premier League with 20 teams and the Kenya Premier League (KPL) that plays 18 teams. A farcical situation that calls for a remedy. The KFF’s constitution provides for 20 teams and they have been trying to implement FIFA’s directives. This means that two teams will be axed.
In the scheme of things, how does this affect FIFA, Sepp Blatter, or the status quo? Not one bit. Banning Kenya carries very little payback for Blatter. Kenya ranks 129th in the FIFA rankings and it’s non-professional league attracts very little outside attention even within Africa. However for the Kenyans, the FIFA ban has produced a lot of anxiety, taken away their campaign in the CECAFA, and even worse, instilled little confidence that things will improve.
FIFA rules the football world just the way the pig in Animal Farm observes “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In fact, this is true even for more high profile football playing countries like Greece, Portugal, and Poland.

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2 comments on “FIFA bans Kenya: Its sanctions target the vulnerable
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