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Eight Kenyan footballers who were illegally dismissed must receive their salary arrears and a financial compensation.

This decision by the Kenyan football disciplinary committee is an important success for KEFWA, the Kenyan players’ association, because it expects the decision will stop clubs from unlawfully terminating contracts.

The Kenyan FA ordered AFC Leopards, the country’s second biggest club, to pay the eight players a compensation totaling 5 million shilling (approximately USD 50,000). This consists of 2.4 million shilling (USD 24,000) in arrears from last season and 2.6 million shilling (USD 26,000) in damages for the unlawful breach of contracts.

KEFWA Chairman Innocent Mutiso (photo) has mixed feelings about the verdict. He is “very happy” that the disciplinary committee ruled in favour of the players, but is “not satisfied” that they did not receive their full claim.

The disciplinary committee only awarded each player a compensation of 6 months’ salary, even though one player had one year left on his contract and five players had 18 months left on theirs. The eight footballers had asked for a total of 11.4 million shilling (USD 114,000) in damages instead of the awarded 2.6 million. “We feel that they all should have been awarded a compensation for the total unexpired period of the contract”, Mutiso said.

FIFA regulations require that a party in breach must pay compensation equaling the remuneration for the remainder of the contract. For FIFPro it is a principle matter that this requirement is fulfilled.

However, Mutiso and KEFWA consider it a milestone in the protection of players’ rights in Kenya that players receive compensation and a club is sanctioned.

Mutiso: “This win is a big step for us. In Kenya, it happens often that clubs illegally terminate contracts and get away with it. We wanted to make an example of this case with AFC Leopards. We expect that from now on illegal breach of contract will be a thing of the past.

KEFWA is one of the youngest player unions in Africa, and is aligned with FIFPro Division Africa.

2016 Burchkalter 250Stéphane Burchkalter, Secretary General of FIFPro Africa, praised the work of the union. “This is a confirmation that also in Africa a contract is the main tool in the relationship between a player and a club.”

“Respect of contract is not only an issue for players, African clubs need to realise that they cannot unilaterally breach a contract.”

"Wherever clubs and federations are not implementing minimum contract standards for players or respecting FIFA jurisprudence, FIFPro Division Africa and its unions will stand up and fight to enforce the law for the benefit of the players.”

KEFWA Preparing new case against Leopards

In April, AFC Leopards found a lucrative new sponsor and told the players in May that they had to leave immediately, because the players were not ‘up to standard’. Shortly thereafter, Leopards signed new players as replacements.

Mutiso said: “Last seasons, when AFC Leopards did not have a lot of money, these eight players were good enough to lead the team to a seventh position. That was a good position, as they were safe from relegation, especially considering that players were not paid for up to 4 months.”

Mutiso and KEFWA are already preparing a new case involving five more players from AFC Leopards, whose contracts have recently too been terminated. “Later this week we are going to file their cases with the disciplinary committee too.”