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By ESPN Staff

Kenyan chiefs criticised over looming FIFA ban

NAIROBI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Furious Kenyan players and fans said on Thursday they would demand the sacking of local soccer chiefs if the east African nation is banned from international competition.

World governing body FIFA on Wednesday proposed that the Kenyan Football Federation (KFF) be suspended for failing to respect signed agreements and for recurrent problems in the association.

National team captain Musa Otieno, who plays for South African Premier League side Engen Santos, blamed officials for the chaos in Kenyan soccer.

'FIFA had warned them many weeks ago and they did not heed due to their individual interests. They will bear the blame if FIFA bans us because of their ineptitude,' he told Reuters by telephone from Cape Town.

FIFA forwarded Kenya's file to the Disciplinary Committee, suggesting that it initiate proceedings against the leading officials in the association.

Kenyan soccer has been in disarray for the past two years but the situation worsened last month when the start of the Premier League season was delayed after two rival bodies organised parallel leagues.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter stepped in and gave Kenya an Oct. 18 deadline to sort out the mess or face sanctions.

The world governing body wants Kenya to implement a 28-point agreement signed in Cairo in January by FIFA, KFF chairman Alfred Sambu, African soccer's ruling body CAF and representatives of Kenyan clubs and government officials.

FIFA wants Kenya Premier League Limited (KPL) to run a league with 18 clubs but the KFF has set up a company, KFF PL, to run a 20-team league. This has culminated in the two leagues running simultaneously.

Sambu said he will present FIFA's official communication to the national executive committee after which a special delegates' meeting will be summoned to discuss the matter.

Kenya's Commissioner for Sport, Gordon Oluoch, accused FIFA of being hard on the KFF.

'The reasons they are giving are flimsy and don't warrant the sort of action they are proposing to take on Kenya. They should send a fact-finding mission to Kenya to see what is happening on the ground,' he said.

But Otieno, whose 'Harambee Stars' team appear to have no realistic chance of reaching the 2008 African Nations Cup finals after a poor start to qualifying, blames KFF officials for the problems affecting Kenyan soccer.

'For the past decade, I haven't seen officials with the interest of the game (at heart). Instead, I see people whose sole interest is to... gain political mileage from the sport,' Otieno said.

Many Kenyan soccer fans are also disillusioned with the way the game is being run.

'We are a laughing stock. Where do you hear of two rival leagues except in Kenya? I personally want FIFA to ban Kenya if this will wake them up,' said Benson Omusula, who cleans cars in Kenya's capital to eke out a living.