SportPesa’s abrupt withdrawal from all Kenyan sports sponsorships has precipitated a crisis of sorts ahead of a busy year in the sporting calendar.
The betting firm was reacting to the government’s increased taxes on gaming.
Several clubs and national teams that directly benefitted from SportPesa’s largesse have since indicated that they will, subsequently, withdraw from international engagements.
There is also talk of a boycott of April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia by the affected federations, whose financial plans have been scuttled.
Sadly, it is evident that, ultimately, players, coaches, referees and other main sports stakeholders will be the worst hit by the withdrawal of sponsorship.
The Exchequer, traditionally, seems to have more pressing needs to take care of, meaning very little in terms of resources will be apportioned to sports development. Alternative sources of financing our sport are, therefore, imperative and investors in the sector must be encouraged and offered incentives that will, ultimately, trickle down to the athletes and coaches.
We appeal for urgent talks between the government and the betting firms to strike middle ground. While the government may be justified in increasing tax on gaming firms that continue to rake in huge sums, the Treasury’s hardline stance might be counter-productive.