(Xinhua) -- Kenya’s top football clubs - Gor
Mahia and AFC Leopards will withdraw from the 2018
Champions League and Confederations Cup.
This is after sponsors - betting
giants SportPesa Chief Executive Officer, Captain Ronald
Karauri officially announced the withdrawal of all their
sponsorships on Tuesday, in a move that plunged the
Kenyan sporting industry into crisis.
This is after the private equity firm
lost a case last week in the country’s High Court
challenging the implementation of a 35 percent
government tax on revenue that came in force on Monday.
“Unfortunately, we lost the case and
effective immediately and we regret this decision,
we have no choice but to cancel all sponsorships we
have as SportPesa,” Karauri announced confirming
fears that have been circulating since Thursday when
the court ruled against the firm.
Reacting to the development, Gor
chairman, Ambrose Rachier, said they would hold a crisis
meeting later Tuesday where they would write to
continental body, CAF, stating their withdrawal from the
2018 Champions League.
“A one-way air ticket is costing 3.5
million shillings (35,000 U.S. dollars),
accommodation, 3 million shillings (30,000 dollars)
and we will need 10 million shillings (10,000
dollars) for one match, to and from and we cannot
sustain that budget.
“Our gate collections are not enough
to cater for that expense and also pay players and
technical bench, we are in dilemma. This is
tantamount to killing football in the country. No
Kenyan club is going to successfully stay in the
2018 KPL,” Rachier lamented.
His Leopards counterpart, Dan Mule,
also said his team who won the 2017 GOtv Shield will
follow suit and withdraw from the 2018 CAF
“We have no sponsors right now. We are
going to withdraw from CAF assignments. We are
urging other like-minded corporates to emulate
SportPesa and support community clubs in Kenya.
“I don’t know how we will pay the 10
international players we have signed ahead of the
season,” Mule said.
Besides Gor and Leopards, other
organisations staring at a bleak future include Football
Kenya Federation, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and the Boxing
Association of Kenya are the federations affected by the
move to terminate their biggest source of funding.
SportPesa was also catering for the
bulk of the pay for newly hired national football team
head coach, Belgian Paul Put and Technical Director,
Andreas Spiers from Germany.
The Kenyan Premier League (football),
National Boxing League as well as the annual Super 8
grassroots football tournament are the domestic
competitions that will be affected by the move.
“The cancellation of this contract
forces us to completely re-examine our structures
and we immediately call upon the government to step
into the breach and provide the necessary support as
guided by the Sports Act,” KRU added in a statement.