Kenyan sports official flees fans at match

January 22, 2007

NAIROBI, Jan 22 (Reuters) - A Kenyan sports official was chased from a Mombasa soccer stadium by angry fans when he tried to stop a match between Coast Stars and Thika United.

Sport commissioner Gordon Oluoch had to seek refuge with police after being threatened by the supporters.

'They hurled insults and threatened to beat me up,' Oluoch told a reporter from Kenya's Standard newspaper.

The game had already degenerated into farce before Oluoch's arrival, with anti-riot police taking to the pitch soon after kickoff in a bid to arrest referee Fredrick Oduor.

As spectators and players fled, Oduor hid for 10 minutes before returning to the pitch. He ordered the game to resume but the police returned with Oluoch.

Kenyan soccer has been in chaos since early November when the government dissolved the country's football federation (KFF), which still organised Sunday's match in the coastal city.

The KFF is contesting its dissolution.

Oluoch wanted to enforce a ruling by Sports Minister Maina Kamanda that only matches run by a committee set up to replace the KFF could be played in government facilities.

'Despite what happened, we are still committed to ensuring proper leadership at the Kenya Football Federation,' Sports Minister Kamanda told Reuters.

Acting KFF chairman Mohammed Hatimy was also present at the stadium with a court order he said proved his body was entitled to organise the game.

'The attempts to stop Sunday's league match seriously undermined our chances of participating in the World Cup qualifiers,' Hatimy told Reuters.

Kenya was suspended by FIFA from international competition in October for failing to honour agreements and for protracted problems in the federation. FIFA will review the ban on Jan. 31.