Infantino to skip Kenya in upcoming Africa tour amid ongoing football governance issues

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

Infantino to skip Kenya in upcoming Africa tour amid ongoing football governance issues

Festus Chuma 10:00 - 28.05.2024

FIFA President Gianni Infantino will skip Kenya to attend a World Cup qualifier in South Sudan, inaugurating the refurbished Juba National Stadium.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has decided to bypass Kenya in his upcoming tour of Africa, where he is set to attend several key football events, including a Group B FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier between South Sudan and Sudan on June 11th, 2024. 

The match will be held at the newly refurbished Juba National Stadium marking a significant moment for South Sudanese football.

The decision to omit Kenya from his itinerary comes amid ongoing legal and governance issues that have plagued Kenyan football. 

The world football governing body had previously threatened to suspend Kenya from all football activities in March due to government interference. 

This was highlighted when the High Court in Mombasa halted the Annual General Meeting of the Football Kenya Federation, which was scheduled for March 16, following a legal challenge by sports journalist Milton Nyakundi.

Victor Lual, the General Secretary of the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA), confirmed Infantino’s participation as the chief guest for the inauguration of the stadium, which received significant funding from FIFA.

 "We are happy that the FIFA President will be the chief guest during this inauguration and also watch the match. This Stadium has been refurbished with funding from the World Football body," Lual stated.

While Kenya faces exclusion from this significant visit, its football team also grapples with logistical challenges, having to relocate two of its upcoming World Cup qualifier matches to Malawi due to ongoing stadium renovations. 

The nation's exclusion from Infantino's itinerary is seen as a continuation of FIFA's stringent stance on government interference in football.

 In 2022, FIFA suspended Kenya from all football activities for over a year after former Sports CS Amina Mohamed disbanded the Nick Mwendwa-led federation amid allegations of fund misappropriation.

Despite these challenges, Kenya remains the host for this year’s Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) and the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations, highlighting a complex relationship with international and continental football bodies.

Meanwhile, the focus in the CECAFA Zone is on the World Cup qualifiers, with teams like Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, and Uganda vying for a spot in the 2026 World Cup. 

Senegal currently leads Group B with four points after two matches, closely followed by Sudan with the same number of points but a lower goal difference. 

South Sudan trails at the bottom of the group with just a single draw from two matches.

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