CAF bans Kenya FA chief executive in COVID-19 dispute in AFCON qualifier

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has banned two Football Kenya Federation (FKF) officials for six months after they were found guilty of delaying COVID-19 testing during the country’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Comoros in November 2020.

Barry Otieno, the FKF chief executive officer, and Ronny Oyando, the national team manager, are now barred from any CAF activities with CAF further ordering FKF to pay 2.2 million shillings (20,000 U.S. dollars) in fines.

As a result of their actions on Nov. 11, 2020 when Kenya played Comoros in Nairobi, the continental governing body ruling revealed that four visiting players had tested positive for COVID-19 but they went on to feature in the game risking contamination of those involved in the match.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Kenya losing the return game four days later 2-1 to exit the competition.

CAF charged that on the day of the match, the General Secretary of the Comoros Football Federation came in early to take their PCR tests, and he was met with refusal from the Kenyan national team’s management.

They then delayed the process for three hours until they finally gave in. “The test results arrived just a few minutes before kick-off, during warm-up, due to the said delay,” CAF said.

According to CAF, the match commissioner did not get the chance to check the results himself as Otieno and Oyando disputed the results as soon as they became aware of them and snatched them from his hands and tore them apart.

“According to the PCR tests copies that were acquired after the match, four players have all tested positive before the match yet took part in the game and risked the contamination of the opposing team as well as their fellow teammates and all officials that were involved in match 94 of the Total African Cup of Nations Qualifiers,” CAF said.

In his response, Otieno said he was examining the options available to him following his ban while denying the accusations.

“I have just learnt about the allegations and will be consulting internally on the next steps,” he added.

“Nonetheless, I wish to state that everyone who was present during the incident, including the match commissioner, knows that what has been alleged is not true. That notwithstanding, CAF has made a decision and as a member we will comply with it,” the FKF CEO noted.

The incident is the latest blot in the current FKF administration that is coming out of a blanket local media ban after the officials, including Otieno, were accused of high-handedness in dealing with the press.

The International Sports Press Association (AIPS) criticized the decision to lock selected journalists out of a fixture in December 2020 between local champions Gor Mahia and Ulinzi Stars – apparently because of a contractual dispute between the Kenyan FA and league sponsors.

The ban, which lasted 32 days, was lifted on Jan. 16 when the FKF top brass led by President Nick Mwendwa and Otieno held a lengthy meeting with Sports Journalists Association of Kenya officials in Nairobi to iron out the dispute.

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