That MacDonald Mariga has threatened to boycott – and rightly so – playing for the Harambee Stars in the Africa Nations Cup qualifying match against Togo slated for Wednesday is a big blow to Kenya’s chances of beating the Togolese but a decision that should be supported.
I know many people would rush to condemn the former Inter Milan star and reiterate that the game is very important and therefore the player should put the country first. That’s trash talk as far as I am concerned.
You see it’s one thing when a player has been called into the national team but refuses to turn up – insert Arnold Origi – and totally another when a player uses his money to pay for air tickets, travels for thousands of miles expecting a refund of the monies (energy nontaxable), only to land home and be told that it’s not going to happen.
The Football Kenya Federation has been doing the right things as far as boardroom issues are concerned. But shifting the old problems to the players’ camp while they are training for a crucial tie against a team that played in the 2006 World Cup could prove costly.
Mariga is demanding a paltry Sh1.5million which he claims he has so far spent on air tickets to honour five Harambee Stars’ matches. FKF has apparently been promising to refund the expenses but have it looks like either they are too financially trodden to keep the promise or they don’t see the importance of having the Parma man in the Stars team.
Unless I am suffering from some inexplicable disease, I have read, heard, and damn it I have seen the national team being presented with a cheque worth Sh110 million from sponsors Tusker. Isn’t Sh1.5 million that Mariga is demanding just 1.3 percent of that? What does FKF want to do with that money? And why did they okay Mariga to use his money to travel home in the first place?
Mariga looks likely to miss the crucial tie against Emmanuel Adebayor-led Togo side. His absence in the midfield will surely be felt even if Kenya wins the tie. This controversy will also impact the dressing room in many ways than one and will definitely not set a good example to other players.
But the impact of the controversy will be felt for the long term because I don’t see players, especially the overseas ones, committing to use their own resources to play for the Stars knowing only too well that getting a refund would be a herculean task. FKF should not the use the players' philanthropy and patriotism to punish them. Football is a demanding game and those who decide to play should be rewarded for their efforts.
What a shame!!
And That's thesteifmastertake!!