Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Gor and AFC have a connection with fans

It's the connection, it's the passion from within. That's what i'd say to anyone who said that AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia receive somewhat preferential
treatment and are handled with kid gloves by FKF. Hooliganism aside,these two clubs are arguably the biggest clubs in Kenya and have a mass following with passionate support. This support is galvanised by the mere fact that they have a regional, cultural and ethnic identity. Community clubs build and nurture a close, hearty connection with their fans who can connect and relate with them at a personal level.
Identity is key. In Spain social class identity divides Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid fan bases. Real Madrid appeals to the upper class elite and middle class and their city rivals Atletico Madrid appeal to the average man on the street. In Scotland football rivalry between Rangers and Celtic is mainly defined by religious identity. Rangers have Protestants' support and Celtic have a Catholic fan base. Fans of these four clubs have something that collectively attaches them to their fans.
Back in Kenya, a club like KRA or Western Stima would not elicit much interest if they had to play in empty stadiums because they have a negligible fan base. There is nothing that connects them to fans, their is nothing that the fans can get behind. Clubs like KRA, Tusker, KCB, Bandari, Western Stima are viewed as corporate entities taking to the field not thoroughbred football clubs. The truth is institutional clubs like Bandari and KRA can be disbanded anytime, they can die simply because no one cares. Clubs like KCB, Western Stima, KRA, Tusker are just an extension of corporate social responsibiliy strategies by the institution they represent. That is why they do not even need sponsors. They are defined by brand names. Unlike Afc and Gor which are real footballing institutions which are defined by fans. When Gor or Sofapaka won the KPL title it meant more than when Tusker won it. Why, a Gor win speaks to the heart more than a Tusker win which would just be another corporate accolade for EABL.
My point is, Gor and Afc fans define Kenyan league football, that is why stadium bans for them hurt, they do not just hurt the club's establishment but also hurts the hearts of their loyal supporters. It will also hurt Kenya's football complexion because Afc and Gor populate stadia and bring life to a weekend fixture. The decision by FKF to allow their fans into stadiums despite an earlier ban for me is an admission that the KPL cannot do without the fervent, consistent and loyal support that Gor and Afc provide in the league, the league needs it. What it does not need, however, is hooliganism.

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