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Mass exodus looms at Gor Mahia

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CECIL ODONGO

By CECIL ODONGO
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Gor Mahia are on the verge of losing four key senior players.

Nation Sport has established that the four are no longer interested in playing for Gor Mahia and intent to leave the club at the end of this season.

The four, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised while still under contract and with the season yet to end, said their decision would not change even if Gor Mahia secured a major shirt sponsor.

The players said they were fed up with Gor Mahia repeatedly failing to meet its financial obligation to the squad members and it was better for them to look for greener pastures.

“It has been tough at Gor Mahia since the sponsorship of SportPesa ended. I can’t blame the club management for the current financial woes but as a player, I have dependents whom I have to look after. I have bills to pay,” said the players.

They also blamed Gor Mahia officials for “abandoning the club and leaving all the management burden to the chairman Ambrose Rachier” who has been struggling to ensure they are paid, however little money it is.

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“Personally, if all goes well I will leave but am indebted to the chairman who has been there for us during hard times. I am not afraid to say that other officials have abandoned us in time of need. Whenever there is an issue, we are always told to talk to the chairman who sometimes gets to us personally and assists. We are grateful for that,” said one of the players.

They called on the government to chip in and financially assist community-based clubs like Gor and AFC Leopards so that they can return back to their glory days.

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They wondered how money from the Sport Fund was now being channelled to other functions yet sportspeople were going hungry and begging for food.

The Kenyan Premier League is currently suspended following a government ban on public gatherings in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has already caused the death of seven people in the country.

With no action, no source of income and a season in limbo, many KPL clubs remain hard pressed to pay their contracted players.

Fifa on Tuesday proposed that contracts of players be extended until such time that the season does actually end.

Fifa, in the same communication, encouraged clubs and players to work together to find agreements and solutions during the period when football is suspended.

Nation Sport understands that Tanzanian giants Azam and Young Africans are keen on the services of three of the four players who want out.

The other player said he has been in negotiating with Tunisian giants Esperance.

Yanga SC and Simba have lately been raiding K’Ogalo’s camp for fresh talent.

Former K’Ogalo stars Francis Kahata and Meddie Kagera signed for Simba in 2019 and 2018 respectively while Ivorian striker Yikpe Ghislain, who played for less than a season at K’Ogalo, left for Yanga amid financial tribulation at the 18-time Kenyan Premier League champions last December.

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No sanctions for Sancho and Bundesliga players for Floyd protests

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BERLIN, Germany, Jun 3Bundesliga players including Jadon Sancho who staged protests during matches following the death of American man George Floyd will not be punished, the German Football Federation said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the DFB said “no action” would be taken against Borussia Dortmund players Sancho and Achraf Hakini, Schalke’s US midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Moenchengladbach’s French forward Marcus Thuram for “their symbols of solidarity”.

“This line will also be taken should further players make demonstrations on racism and the death of Floyd over the course of upcoming matchdays,” the DFB added.

After scoring in Dortmund’s win at Paderborn on Sunday England winger Sancho lifted his shirt to reveal the message “Justice for George Floyd”.

Floyd’s death after a policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes has sparked eight days of protests in the US cities.

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Hakimi and McKennie expressed similar calls for justice, while Frenchman Thuram, the son of World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, took a knee after scoring for Gladbach in memory of Floyd, echoing similar protests against police brutality started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

On Tuesday, FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said that players demanding justice for Floyd, should be applauded.

The DFB had launched their investigation into the players’ tributes following guidelines from the sport’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board.

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Italy rugby star earns country’s highest award for volunteer coronavirus work

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MILAN, Italy, Jun 3 Italian rugby international Maxime Mbanda has earned one of Italy’s highest awards for his work as a front-line volunteer in the fight against the coronavirus.

President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday named the back-row forward a ‘Cavalieri al merito della Repubblica’, or ‘Knights of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic’ for working with a volunteer ambulance team in the city of Parma during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It was unexpected news. This recognition fills me with pride,” said Mbanda.

“The credit goes to all the people who have worked hard during this period and who have been doing it for years in silence.”

The honour is awarded to those who have distinguished themselves in the service to the community, including doctors and nurses during the recent crisis which killed over 33,500 people in Italy.

Born in Rome to a Congolese father and Italian mother, Mbanda had been scheduled to face England in the Six Nations for his 21st Italy cap on March 14 when all sport was suspended as the pandemic quickly spread.

Instead, wearing a mask and protective suit, the 27-year-old volunteered as an ambulance driver with the volunteer medical transport group “Croce Gialla” (Yellow Cross) in the region of Emilia-Romagna, one of the areas most affected by the coronavirus.

“When everything was cancelled in rugby, I wondered how I could help, even without medical expertise,” Mbanda, who plays for Zebre Rugby, the Parma club, told AFP in March.

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He said he found the group, which helped transport patients, medicine and food for the elderly during the crisis.

“It was the 70 busiest days of my life,” Mbanda wrote on his Instagram account in May.

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“I transported more than 100 patients, had gruelling shifts where I had lunch in the evening, because I couldn’t take off that suit to avoid the risk of getting infected until I was sanitised,” he wrote.

Mbanda joined a service that transports patients who have coronavirus © AFP/File / ANDREAS SOLARO

“During the most intense period I cried in the evening, as a way to release what I saw during the day which I wasn’t used to,” he added

Mbanda’s father, a surgeon in Milan, was “also on the front line,” he said, adding that, if asked, he would do it all again.

“In fact, I have admitted several times during this period that I regretted not having started earlier and I will advise anyone from now on to try to volunteer,” he wrote.

“For me it was an incredible experience.”

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Amazon to make Premier League matches free-to-air

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LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 3Amazon will make its four Premier League matches in the remainder of the 2019/20 season free-to-air as broadcasters prepare for the return of the English top-flight.

The Premier League is set to resume behind closed doors on June 17 after being suspended since March due to the coronavirus.

All 92 remaining fixtures will be televised live and Amazon has a small package of games.

Unlike earlier this season, fans will not need a Prime membership to watch fixtures on the online platform.

“Like the rest of the country, we are excited to see the Premier League return to action,” said Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe.

“We will be making all four of Amazon Prime Video’s additional fixtures in the 2019-20 season available free of charge. Fans will not need a Prime membership to view the games on Prime Video.”

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The online streaming service entered the competitive Premier League live rights market in 2018, changing the landscape of British sports broadcasting.

Sky Sports has announced 25 of its 64 matches will be free-to-air on its Pick channel, while the BBC has the rights to screen four games on terrestrial TV.

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It will be the first time the BBC has shown any live English top-flight action since 1988.

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