In news that has shocked the Kenya rugby community Safaricom has today withdrawn its support of the Safaricom Sevens and the Safaricom National Sevens Circuit. In a letter to the Kenya Rugby Union, CEO of Safaricom Bob Collymore said that concerns with lack of transparency and accountability of certain members of the board whose actions had brought the game into disrepute greatly influenced the decision.
The letter which was a notice of termination of sponsorship gave the required notice of 30 days to the Union and the clubs which host the 7s tournaments: Coast Rugby Union (Driftwood 7s), Kisumu Rugby club (Dala 7s), Harlequins (Christie 7s), Mwamba (Kabeberi 7s), Nakuru (Prinsloo).
Bob Collymore said that when Safaricom first took title sponsorship in 2010 the idea was to grow the game from the grassroots and take it to a global stage (program). The issues of the board have diverted the focus from the game and that is the reason why Safaricom will no longer be sponsoring the rugby series.
Bob Collymore assured Safaricom partners in athletics that it would continue to support the sector and invest in young upcoming athletes through the Safaricom Athletics Series. To this end Safaricom will be sponsoring 12 million in cash for the Safaricom Relays edition 2015. Another 18 million in cash will go to the Safaricom Track and Field 2015 edition. Another 20 million will go to the road races to Athletics Kenya and partners. The total sponsorship in cash and kind will among to around 12 million Kenya shillings.
Richard Omwela who has just been voted in as Chairman of the Kenya Rugby Union will begin his term in the hot seat as sponsors funds play a huge role in the Union’s finances. This may be the time for hard decisions as other sponsors like Kenya Airways who have also been keenly following the management issues may also go in the direction of Safaricom if internal politics which are affecting the game and issues of corruption are not sorted out.