Gor Mahia’s management and the ministry of sports have come under the spotlight following a travel nightmare that saw the team’s players arrive in Morocco two hours to their return leg match of Caf Confederation Cup quarter-final match against RS Berkane.
Travel-weary Gor lost 5-1 to their hosts on Sunday at the Stade Municipal de Berkane to exit the tournament on a 7-1 aggregate.
Gor’s trip to Berkane was dogged by delays occasioned by late booking of air tickets, and a technical hitch in a Kenya Airways flight they were meant to board.
Gor chairman Ambrose Rachier told Nation Sport on phone from Berkane on Sunday that his office was blameless. He said delays and confusions that affected because the messy travel plans were as a result of delayed bookings by the sports ministry.
Gor CEO Lordvick Aduda went further to state that the problem was with the ministry’s service providers who refused to book the team in a flight since the ministry owes the service providers millions of shillings.
“The problem was with the ministry’s service providers. We had an itinerary but once we got to the airport, they said they could not attend to us because the ministry owes them millions of shillings, and we had to turn back,” Aduda said.
However, Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia reiterated that the ministry is not responsible for funding the team, and that the sports ministry went out of its way to provide tickets for the team.
He also said that considering the time the requisition was made, most airlines already had full bookings, which led them to purchase the only tickets available.
“The requisition was made after Sunday, and remember it was the week after we had wired more than 200 million to Football Kenya Federation to aid in their preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We do not have any budgets for funding clubs because that is not the ministry’s responsibility, but we still chose to help them. We couldn’t find the money immediately because of the normal procedures in government, but we went out of our way to find an agent who could book them in at an undertaking credit so they could make it to Morocco,” he said.
The government is not obligated by law to cater for travel plans for local sports teams.
Through the Sports Act, the ministry is only obligated to deal with federations and national teams, but not local clubs.
In Ghana, for instance, the government has a written down policy of paying plane tickets and also giving $150,000 (15million) for Caf Confederation Cup appearances and $200,000 (Sh20 million) for Caf Champions League appearances.
Countries like Uganda and Nigeria also have similar policies in place.
With that heavy defeat, Berkane equalled the record overall winning margin for a Confederation Cup quarter-final.
And regarding the pictures that surfaced on social media showing midfielder Francis Kahata and defender Philemon Otieno sleeping on airport floors, while on transit to Morocco, Rachier said that these were the words of a few troublemakers who were ‘stupid’ and ‘mischievous’ who would be dealt with this week.
“Everyone who has travelled here has endured layovers ranging from six to 10 hours,” Rachier claimed.
“There is nothing we could do. I was caught up at the airport in Casablanca for eight hours. There are a few players posting stupid photos on WhatsApp, probably to destabilize the team. We will handle the situation after the match,” he said.