Being a referee in Kenya is not considered much of a career. And like most sports in the country, football is plagued by corruption and underfunding by the government to the detriment of the game.
Clubs suffered when betting giant SportPesa stopped sponsoring the Kenya Premier League-then known as Sportpesa premier league (SPL)-and finally closed shop in the country citing punitive taxes by the government.
Kenyan National Super League (NSL) Strike Threat
NSL-the second tier of the Kenyan football league system-refs had threatened to down their tools if money owed to them by the Federation of Kenya Football (FKF) had not been paid. A referee told Goal of their predicament:
“Since match-day one we have not been paid, all the Federation has done is lie to us. They told us they will clear our debts before Afcon but that has not been done, we are way past Afcon and still waiting..”
The sentiments were echoed by another referee who faulted FKF of not paying their salaries that had accumulated since December 2018. He went on to say:
“If they claim they do not have money for the league, where did our Shield Cup money go? We understand the sponsors paid, why have we not been given our dues?” another referee stated.
“We are contemplating on laying down our tools when the season begins because it seems the Federation is interested in cheap publicity when we are dying here. One of our own is in dire need of cash because of what he is facing, but he cannot do anything.”
Kenya Premier League Woes
The withdrawal of SportPesa as title sponsors affected the smooth running of football in Kenya. Referees had to endure months without pay. FKF Referees Manager Sylvester Kirwa said of the situation:
“We have never been in such a situation before with KPL and the referees understand it”
Amount of money NSL Referees are paid per match
Two assistant referees and fourth official-kes3,500 each
Pay of KPL referees
According to soka25east.com, match officials in Nairobi are paid 5,500 while those traveling to Thika, Machakos, Nakuru or Narok pocket to officiate matches take home Kshs 8,000.
Referees traveling to Kisumu or Kakamega pocket kes10,500 while those in Mombasa are paid kes11,500.