Sofapaka faces fan backlash over inconsistent jerseys amidst sponsorship woes, highlighting the club's financial struggles since Betika's departure.
2009 Football Kenya Federation Premier League champions Sofapaka find themselves in a whirlwind of controversy as they grapple with the challenge of presenting a consistent jersey kit for their matches.
Fans have raised eyebrows and questions about the club's lack of a steady kit, with recent appearances in various jerseys ranging from unbranded to big names like Umbro.
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After their recent 1-0 loss to Ulinzi Stars, where the team donned an unbranded jersey bearing only the team logo, and a previous match against Posta Rangers in an Umbro jersey, fans took to social media platforms to voice their confusion and dissatisfaction.
A vocal critic, Tifow Adaa Adenko, expressed his dismay on the club's Facebook page saying, “Sofapaka Familia, indeed you are a very confused team, full of jokers. How are you playing in the Kenya top flight league yet you lack official kits [(like street teams)]? At times [Umbro], at times [Adidas]! Sometimes [Kappa from Eastleigh]!!! You can't perform like this. Even if fans wanted to promote the team, where would we start surely?”
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In response, the club's social media team retorted, "Tifow Adaa Adenko, are you bringing this up because we lost a match? As you are aware, we do not have an official partner or sponsor and therefore we make do with what we have. Yes we lost a match, but what has the jersey got to do with it?”
This back-and-forth encapsulates the bigger issue that Sofapaka is grappling with. The club, once a powerhouse, seems to be a shadow of its former self. Adenko nostalgically commented, “Sofapaka Familia, this is not the Sofapaka we knew 20 years ago. It's so sad; prezida anachoma [president is not doing good]. Hizi ni Dalili za Team kuisha [These are signs of the team ending]. Dalili za mvua [Signs of rain]→→ Sofapaka Familia."
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Understanding the pain points of their ardent supporters, the club tried to offer a glimpse into the hardships they face.
"It is expensive to run a club in Kenya without sponsorships. The president is doing his level best but he and the entire club depend on your support. Usichoke na sisi, we will rise, the team will rise. Better days are coming. Keep supporting us,” the club earnestly replied.
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At the heart of this controversy is Sofapaka's loss of their shirt sponsor, Betika. A relationship that began in 2017 with a two-year contract saw multiple renewals until August 2022. Unfortunately, Betika chose not to continue their five-year cumulative partnership, leaving Sofapaka in the lurch.
This decision has taken a significant toll on the club. Without a steady stream of sponsorship money, last season saw players facing hardships, with delayed salaries for months on end.