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‘Where will FKF run to?’ – Mwendwa pleads with government to stop 20% excise tax bill

13:25 BST 12/06/2021
FKF president Nick Mwendwa CS Amina Mohamed and Uhuru Kenyatta.
The federation boss calls on the government to find other avenues of taxing the betting firms to avoid chasing sponsors away

The Football Kenya Federation has pleaded with the government to stop the reintroduction of the 20% excise tax bill on betting stakes.

Initially, the bill was dropped after key stakeholders, including SportPesa, quit the Kenyan market in protest, but the state is now debating the topic in parliament.
 
The bill - that was republished last week after being submitted to the national assembly at the end of April - states that excise duty on betting will be 20% of the amount wagered or staked.

According to FKF president Nick Mwendwa if the bill is passed, football will die in the country since most of their sponsors currently are betting firms.

What has been said?

“We are asking the government betting companies are the ones supporting football in the entire world currently and if we add them [betting firms] extra tax and most of them decide to close shop, where will we run to?” Mwendwa posed a question to Goal when asked about the impending government decision.

“If you check, for example, all our leagues from bottom to the top are sponsored by betting firms, our top league is a betting company, second league betting company, third league betting company, all of them are supported by betting companies.

“So if the government moves to add them tax and then they decide to cut the support to football where are we going to run to for another support?

“Most of them [betting companies] have already told me if the tax is passed then they will leave football, like now we pay top-flight clubs Ksh883, 000 per month, and if the sponsors leave, what will do? We might end up paying clubs Ksh100, 000 each which is not enough.

“All I can ask is the government to get other avenues to regulate betting companies, we stop pushing them to the corner, but push them in a way they can continue with their business, others have told me, they will leave sponsorship so their companies can survive.”

Government should find a better way

Mwendwa continued: “We need to look at it and we stop punishing them, we know there are many ways to handle such an issue, we know it can be done instead, of increasing the tax and chase them away, if you look now they have helped raise funds for the Sports Fund, and we don’t want to go back where we were, previously borrowing money to support our activities.

“We ask the government to remember us football fraternity, instead of giving them huge tax to pay, which most of them are saying they cannot afford, we should not chase them away, we need to regulate how they operate but not by increasing tax.”

The exit of SportPesa in 2019 saw many Premier League clubs, including Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards struggle immensely, and Sony Sugar were relegated for giving out three walkovers.