Gor Mahia player Philemon Otieno injured his knee while appearing for the national football team Harambee Stars against Tanga Stars from Tanzania in the return leg of the African Nations Championship (Chan) on August 4.
Seven weeks on, he is yet to undergo the reconstructive surgery he needs. Gor Mahia and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) are now engaged in a battle over responsibility for the medical expenses.
The moment a player gets a national call-up, he automatically becomes FKF and national government property. This is stipulated in agreements between clubs and FKF.
The federation’s NEC has approved rules to the effect that it must ensure all players have adequate medical and other insurance cover for injury, illness or accidental death while doing duty for country.
It is therefore embarrassing, sad and an insult for FKF to actually stand up and state that it has no money to cater for Otieno’s medical bills.
When Brian Mandela was injured in France as Harambee Stars pitched camp there in July for their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) practice, he received good medical attention. Why not Otieno?
Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda have systems that ensure their federations and clubs take care of injured or sick players.
Corporate bodies were jostling to sponsor Uganda Cranes and Tanzania’s Taifa Stars to the Afcon that ended July in Egypt when Harambee Stars had only a betting firm.
Betin gave FKF Sh20 million, the government Sh200 million and Confederation of African Football (Caf) Sh40 million for qualifying for Afcon.
It is not possible that FKF spent the entire Sh260 million on the tournament and cannot therefore afford to take care of Otieno’s medical bill.