Can Kenya Ever Fight Corruption in Sports?


Corruption is the name of the game

Corruption is a sad fact of life in many countries. Whether between financial giants, governments, or even a small bribe to a local official, in many of the nations of the world, corruption is an endemic. Though corruption at different levels can have varying effects, these are all almost wholly negative. The effect of corruption on a state can have many incarnations. The loss of state funds may result in inadequate funding for state infrastructure. It may cause poverty. It may erase meritocracy and social mobility by granting improper access to opportunities on the basis of who has access to funds. One arena in which improper payments are used to drive the desired outcomes of certain individuals is the world of sport. With tournament upon tournament, and hundreds of officials, from country to country, a little money slid into the back pocket is a key part of the game.

The ‘beautiful game’

The world of professional football is perhaps the most well-known. What was once a symbol of solidarity, camaraderie, and fairplay has become a franchise mired and mixed in with the unsavory underworld of dark politics and organised crime. FIFA is constantly dogged with corruption claims, some of which go right to the heart of the organisation.

Kenya is one such country where corruption in the world of football is a deep-rooted issue. Earlier this year, the head of the Kenyan Football Federation Sam Nyamweya was accused by German TV networks of stealing $500,000 of FIFA funds. He was in fact arrested on the 17th of November for an unrelated matter. The Kenyan national football team was left waiting at an airport for 8 hours after an apparent mix-up. But football is not the only area in which Kenyan corruption operates.

On the wrong track

Kenyan athletics has been making the headlines recently – for all the wrong reasons. Bribery at all levels of the industry has been uncovered. Several runners have been implicated in a ‘cash for doping’ scandal. It was alleged that, in exchange for bribes from the athletes, Kenya’s athletics officials turned a blind eye to the use of performance-enhancing substances. The man who revealed the deception has claimed that since going to the authorities he has been subject to death threats. The fear of violent reprisals it what may convince many to stay silent about illegal activities. This is far from the only corruption scandal plaguing the world of Kenyan athletics. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the global governing body for athletics, is in the midst of conducting an investigation. It is alleged that David Okeyo, who serves as vice president of Athletics Kenya withdrew money from the organisation’s accounts, which was given as the result of a sponsorship deal. Corruption in sport is a global problem. Clearly, for Kenya, the issues are sadly persistent.


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