Former AFC Leopards midfielder Francis Xavier has claimed coaches of the four players banned by Fifa over match-fixing should shoulder some of the blame for the players' actions.
Fifa banned Festus Okiring, Moses Chikati and Festo Omukoto for four years while George Mandela was given a lifetime suspension after investigations concluded they took part in a match-fixing during their time at Kakamega Homeboyz.
“Match-fixing is unsporting behaviour and that is why in coaching courses tacticians are told they are like fathers who should guide their players on what is wrong and what is good,” Xavier told Goal.
“In this regard, coaches failed in their duties too."
The retired footballer also believes the ban should not taint the image of Kenya's football entirely, but admitted circumstances like the current financial problems clubs are undergoing could be a catalyst for such acts.
“But I think we cannot be intimidated or punished as a country because of the of some few people. Most likely, it is the economic hardship which influenced such unsporting behaviour,” he said.
The former Wazito FC coach further revealed he believes active professional football players in Kenya partake in betting activities but not in a manner that would lead to a ban by Fifa.
“People bet but not in the magnitude which led to the suspension of the players. Yes, Kenyan players bet but not to the extent of betting against their own teams. This is something which rarely happens in a serious team and if it is being done measures should be taken in order to uproot such a vice completely from our teams,” he added.
“If we do not deal with it now, we will lose dignity and respect for our football in the long run.”
The former Vihiga United assistant coach feels the length of punishment meted out by the world football governing body was enough to deter other players from engaging in match-fixing acts.
“For a start, it is very much okay because it will serve as a lesson so other people can see it is a dangerous path to tread. KPL and clubs must have a good understanding and collaboration so we really do not go down that path,” Xavier concluded.
“We have to curb this scourge otherwise it will compromise our development. FKF must, in collaboration with stakeholders, come up with stringent measures to ensure such acts do not occur again.”
Okiring had been signed by Ulinzi Stars while Omukoto joined Western Stima before Fifa took the decision. Mandela returned to Uganda when Kakamega Homeboyz terminated his contract in January 2019.