The Kenya national U20 team has been disqualified from the qualifiers for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) after it was determined that the team which played against Sudan in the first round of qualifiers had a number ineligible players.
The team was supposed to be fully composed of players born in or after 1997 as per the CAF rules but the same was not well communicated to the Football Kenya Federation and the team went on to field five players born in 1997.
The FKF has confirmed the disqualification and has decided against an appeal.
Full statement from FKF:
Africa’s football governing body has today disqualified the Kenya under 20 team from the preliminaries of the 2017 AFCON under 20 tournament to be held in Zambia.
According to CAF, Kenya fielded 5 players who were born in 1996 during the first leg of the qualifying match against Sudan on 3rd April 2016. The Governing body cited that the cut off for the birthdate for participating players was 1st January 1997.
The decision means that Kenya will not participate in the preliminaries of the competition and Sudan will proceed to the next stage of the competition. However, the country will be eligible to participate in the qualifying rounds of the 2019 edition of the tourney.
In its defence, Kenya’s football governing body – FKF – had demonstrated its proactive efforts requesting for the updated information from several officials at the governing body. In addition to the endeavor to seek updated regulations, the head of the Kenya delegation during the away match, sought the match commissioner’s guidance on the same. The match commissioner ruled that players born in 1996 were eligible to play hence the continuation of the match.
In its ruling, CAF noted that despite the deficiencies in communication and lack of adequate support from the Match commissioner, it was the responsibilities of its member federations to strictly adhere to CAF statutes and directives. It is on this basis that the Governing body disqualified the team.
Commenting about the disqualification, FKF’s General Secretary, Mr. Robert Muthomi stated that the Federation will not appeal the decision. “The federation is cognizant that the governing body is a fair arbiter for all federations and therefore the decision it has taken has recognized all the steps and future ramifications”.
He added; “Cut off dates for age restricted tournaments are dynamic regulations. It is important to note that non-eligibility is not the same as age cheating.”
The decision will see Sudan sail through to the next round of the competition.