The spat between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and media has reached a tipping point. The federation locked out a section of journalists from covering last Saturday’s top tier match between champions Gor Mahia and Ulinzi Stars at Nyayo National Stadium.
Ironically, this happened on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta led the country in marking its 57th Jamhuri Day celebrations at the same venue earlier on.
The incident drew widespread condemnation from both local and international journalists’ bodies, led by the International Sports Press Association and Media Council of Kenya (MCK).
But this was not the first time that FKF was targeting journalists. It has blacklisted and denied Standard Media Group print journalists and photographers accreditation for months to cover both the national team Harambee Stars and Premier League matches as well as the federation’s activities, including the presidential elections held on October 17.
Following the federation’s move that saw several journalists who had been earmarked by the federation ejected from the match venue by policemen, several media houses have unanimously agreed to suspend coverage of all FKF leagues.
Notably, the federation uses the Covid-19 protocols as an excuse to lock out journalists it regards ‘unfriendly’ to it.
It is immaterial whether FKF likes these journalists or not. Just like the federation, they are there on behalf of the public. Ironically, both the national teams and the federation itself are funded by taxpayers’ money. The public has a right to know how the federation is managing football on their behalf, and above all, to be informed and entertained whenever their football teams battle it out.
It is the responsibility of journalists to inform the public and it is the role of media houses, not FKF, to choose who should do that.
Granted, FKF may have grievances against certain journalist(s). However, resorting to strong-arm tactics that end up denying Kenyans their constitutionally guaranteed right to information is not a solution.
Instead of kicking journalists out of football pitches, FKF should table whatever grievances it has against them through the right channels such as the MCK, Media Owners Association, Kenya Editors Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists, Kenya Correspondents Association, Sports Journalists Association of Kenya or even the courts of law.
Harassing journalists will do more damage to football. It is wrong to punish the whole country due to the sins, real or imagined, of a few journalists. FKF should stick to its lane and stop meddling in journalists’ work.[embedded content]