The recent spate of violence in Kenyan stadia involving the two Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia has come with a price; the two teams’ sponsorships from betting firm Sportpesa have been suspended.
Fans of the two clubs were involved in hooliganism in the past two weeks of the KPL, Gor Mahia fans causing a brief stoppage of the game against Tusker as well as attacking a match official while AFC Leopards fans caused the abandonment of the match against Ulinzi Stars.
The Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri announced that the firm will be halting the sponsorships until the company meets the clubs and charts a way forward to end the menace.
“This is not harsh at all. As sponsors, what I would like us to think about is if a death occurs in the stadium or somebody is critically injured the damage that will be done to football and the brand will be irreversible. As responsible sponsors instead of waiting for that day to come, we would rather act now, sit down with the club officials and agree on ways to deal with this then sponsorship can continue.
“As of now we have no choice but to suspend that sponsorship especially when it comes to such matters that it looks like a case of impunity whereby people feel invincible that nobody can touch them. They have to feel those repercussions before there is change. Unfortunately it is not an easy decision for us but it is something that we have to do if football is to change,” he added.