'Shameful': Kenyan Sevens players to receive unpaid wages
UPDATE: Kenya’s Rugby Sevens players, who launched an appeal for donations to pay their bills, will be paid their overdue salaries this week ahead of the season-opening Dubai series, the country’s sports minister said Monday.
On Sunday, a number of Shujaa stars shared a fundraiser on social media, claiming the team has not been paid in months and describing a “desperate situation” in which players were eating into their savings to cover daily costs.
The appeal came as Kenya prepares for the Dubai Sevens series on December 2-3 and the Cape Town fixture on December 9-11.
Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba, who met the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) board on Monday to discuss the issue, said the players, who left for Dubai on Sunday night, would get their dues to enable them to compete effectively on the pitch.
“I am authorising this support because I feel the pain of the players,” he told reporters, adding that the team would get their unpaid wages “before they play the first match on Friday.”
“I want really to tell the rugby players that what has happened around your situation is shameful, not just to you but also to the country – for the brand that rugby is to the country. We are not going to allow this to happen again.”
“Our players deserve better,” he added.
Kenya Sevens have struggled to attract sponsorship and it is not the first time the side have been strapped for cash.
The team publicly protested against unpaid salaries in 2018 during the World Rugby Sevens Series in Paris, prompting the government to withdraw its sponsorship deal for the team.
Namwamba urged KRU officials to plan ahead and make financial requests to the government in advance.
“We cannot continue to manage sport by crisis,” he said.
“Especially in a scenario where we have a calender, and we know what’s going to happen in a year’s time and we wait [until the] last minute to run helter-skelter like headless chickens.”