Referees and other match officials at the inaugural Gusii Sevens rugby tournament are protesting the failure by the event organizers to pay them their dues.
Led by Martin Tavale, they claim to have agreed a sum of Sh7,000 each but the tournament director Benjamin Ayimba, who is also a former coach of the Kenya Rugby Sevens team chose to violate the ‘terms of service’.
“We did our part but when we tried to ask for our pay, the tournament director Benjamin Ayimba told us we could take him wherever we want. But for me I don’t have that power to take him wherever I want, but the good Lord is watching,” lamented the Kakamega High School janitor.
Due to the pay disputes, the final day tournament began late behind schedule with the finals and the award ceremony being conducted in darkness, as some of the referees angrily lashed out at the tournament director.
“Maybe this tournament could have been circuited in the Kenya Rugby calendar. But the way things are it may not be possible. Let me ask you, if you went to your farm this year only to have nothing will you go again plant next year?” he posed to yours truly.
Ayimba, on his part, accused the referees for lack of professionalism for demanding payment midway through the tournament leading to a crisis that was averted by a few volunteering local referees.
“We had an issue with the referees because they were demanding full payment before the tournament was done and of course that was a bit unprofessional. We took over the refereeing as we had a few referees who hail from Kisii, one or two, that opted to do the job, so we carried on and sorted it out,” noted the former Shujaa coach.
However, one of the tournament organizers, Antony Kibagendi, who is also the director of the youth in the office of the Deputy President has accused the referees to sabotage an otherwise “successful event’.
The former Kitutu Chache parliamentary aspirant says they fully settled the matter prior to the tournament and any accusations by the referees are ill-founded.
“We realized they are tricksters… they are liars who wanted to take advantage and sabotage us. They assumed what was being written on social media that we have a sh50 million budget. We don’t owe them a single cent; in fact, they should be refunding us,” Kibagendi told Citizen Digital in a phone interview.
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