Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o and his Kakamega counterpart Fernandes Barasa on Sunday issued a joint statement calling out the national government for excluding the Nyanza and Western regions in the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2027 hosting plan.
According to the governors, the government is planning to host the 2027 Afcon games in Nairobi and Eldoret, excluding other regions from hosting the showpiece event.
In their letter, the two governors noted that Kisumu and Kakamega should have been included in the Afcon hosting plans
‘’The Western region of Kenya is where football fans exist in plenitude. NOT in Uasin Gishu, or Eldoret for that matter,’’ the statement read in parts.
President William Ruto (right) unveils the East African Community Pamoja bid for the AFCON 2027 at State House on Monday, May 15, 2023. Behind him is Sports CS Ababu Namwamba.
They further noted that the government’s decision to host the games in the two cities is likely to have a negative effect including fans keeping off the stadiums, especially in Eldoret, which the Governors claimed has fewer football fans compared to Kisumu and Kakamega.
‘’The success of the matches will be on the turn up at the stadia where the matches will be held,’’ the statement further read.
The two county chiefs further claimed that Eldoret, which is globally renowned as an athletics hub, is not known for having a football culture, hence they claimed that fans are unlikely to turn up for the matches.
‘’Eldoret has athletes and athletic fans in millions. But not soccer. And that is the naked truth. This means the Afcon matches will be played in empty stadiums with very little impact,’’ they added.
They further claimed that the regions had been denied a chance to host the Afcon games because they are opposition strongholds.
‘’That would be extremely myopic as the President was representing the Republic of Kenya when he teamed with our colleagues in the East African Community. Coming back home, he seems to have changed the goalpost,’’ they stated.
In their statement, they also referred to the neighboring Tanzania and Uganda which they said have balanced key regions in their plans.
‘’It should be noted that our neighbors who are cohosting the tournament with us, under the PAMOJA proposal, have each chosen three venues namely: Uganda- Kampala, Lira and Hoima; Tanzania-Dar e Salaam, Zanzibar and Arusha. Why can’t we do the same in Kenya?’’ the statement questioned.
The Azimio governors concluded by asking the government to reconsider the plans and make changes to allow the schedule to have a national outlook.
Responding to the developments, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna in a statement echoed the 2 governors’ sentiments holding that recent attendance for various matches held at the Bukhungu Stadium provides credence to the concerns raised by Nyong’o and Barasa.
‘’I support. The evidence is in the turnout at Bukhungu for the regional and national games held recently,’’ Sifuna stated.
After Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda won the joint bid to host the 2027 AFCON, the national government announced that it is planning to construct a brand new stadium in Nairobi called the Talanta Stadium ahead of the games.
In the same fashion, the national government is planning to renovate Nyayo Stadium and Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi, and Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.
The planned Talanta Stadium to be constructed by the Government of Kenya
Ministry Of Youth Affairs, The Arts & Sports