It is a ruling that should have African football administrators across the continent stop and think deep and hard about their style of governing.
The Kenyan football governing body, Football Kenya Federation (FKF), has been ordered by FIFA to pay $1 million (KSh108 million) to Adel Amrouche, a national team coach whose contract was terminated without following legal process in 2014.
If FKF fails to pay by April 24th, Kenya will be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar even before the qualifying rounds start.
In an exclusive interview following that landmark ruling, Abdul Hakim and Karim caught up with Amrouche who revealed what really happened.
Who is to blame for how things went in 2014-15 and how the situation is right now? Is it former FKF president Sam Nyamweya or his successor Nick Mwendwa?
Nyamweya holds no fault in this, the agreement we made was that Williamson (Bobby) will replace me until we had sorted things out with CAF pertaining to my suspension (for his behaviour towards match officials in a match against Sudan in 2015. Initially, Amrouche was suspended for one year, but it was reduced to six games). Unfortunately during this period Nick Mwendwa won the elections and decided to put a coach that he could easily control in charge of the national team. Nick keeps claiming that FKF didn’t hire or fire me which makes me wonder, are they dealing with a ghost?
How did you find your time as Harambee Stars head coach? Was it easy to navigate and make decisions independently?
I loved my time as head coach of the Harambee Stars, probably my best experience as a national team coach, I worked with some talented players and a super technical support team, and we had created a beautiful family. The Kenyan people showed me so much love and support which I will always appreciate. Nyamweya gave me the freedom to pick my own players and to run the team as I saw fit. He rarely questioned my team selection, he never forced players into the national team as is a common practice nowadays.
Were you ever offered any lucrative deals by Mwendwa to remain as coach that you turned down?
Never, Nick did not make any effort to contact me at all even though I was still in Kenya when he won the FKF presidency.
Did FKF ever approach you to settle out of court or try to negotiate a deal?
Again there was no proper communication from Nick Mwendwa or FKF, there was no official communication, and they did not make the effort. I met them in Lausanne, Switzerland during the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) hearings, when the court sessions were on break I suggested to Nick to pay me for what my contract was worth and Nick agreed to this but as soon as he talked to his lawyer and we resumed hearings, he went back on his word.
The lack of respect and arrogance from Mwendwa led me to carry the case further and previous to this, I made the effort to go to Kenya on various occasions to try and meet but my attempts were in vain. My lawyers kept pressuring me to put the final nail in the coffin which would have led to earlier troubles for FKF and the Harambee Stars, but I really wanted to see my players play in the 2019 AFCON.
What was the appeal ruling by CAS?
The initial fee was KSh60 million, but Mwendwa kept trying to fight it and made us have to go to court plenty of times resulting in me spending a lot of money on this case and that’s what put KSh48 million on top.
Would you be willing to coach Kenya someday in the future?
Of course I would, I fell in love with Kenya during my time there and even before that. I traveled to Kenya plenty of times after that because I still have friends and family there, the players I coached are like my family, I am blessed to still be in good contact with them. I said many times, if Mwendwa resigns I will drop the whole case. Mwendwa likes a coach that he can strong arm and control in terms of squad selection and other aspects and I am not that type of coach.
RELATED STORY: 2021 AFCON moved to January.
By Tisini’s AH Musili and contributing writer Karim Rersa
Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa