Friday, May 22, 2009

Nyayo Stadium no longer on the Coke side of life

NAIROBI - The Kenya government on Thursday revoked a national stadium naming rights granted to international soft drinks firm, Coca-Cola, citing irregularities in the deal.

Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Helen Sambili canceled the three-year deal which gave Coca-Cola the naming rights of the Nyayo National Stadium. The 35,000-seater stadium, the smaller of the two national stadia in Nairobi, was

 consequently renamed Coca-Cola National Stadium in the deal that saw the multi national company pay the government US$ 120 million.

However, Prof. Sambili said the deal, sealed in February, was negotiated and implemented behind her back. She said there was no way a stadium owned by the government could be re-branded or leased to a private party without the direct knowledge and consent of the government. She blasted the state agency managing government stadia, Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB), which falls under her ministry, for keeping her in the dark. The minister directed that the stadium reverts back to its original name - Nyayo National Stadium.

Following the development, the beverage firm Thursday pulled out of the deal but re-affirmed its commitment to the development of sports in Kenya. The giant bottling company further promised to support the annual Copa Coca-Cola soccer youth soccer tournament and other sporting activities meant to benefit Kenyans. Addressing the media on Thursday, Alex Maditsi, who is the Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Country Manager, said the firm was disturbed by the development.

Flanked by Norah Odwesso and Peter Muriuki, both Public Affairs and Communication directors, Maditsi said his company remained committed to investing in the development of sports in the country. ”Through our investment and support of the Copa Coca-Cola Under-17 grassroots football tournament, the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, World Cup and the Olympics, Coca-Cola will continue to maintain its rich legacy in the world of sports. We have held various consultative meetings with both SSMB as well as the minister for sports to consider the varying naming propositions given to us by the ministry and its parastatal,” Maditsi claimed. "We acknowledge and respect the minister's views with regard to the re-reinstatement of the emblem 'Nyayo' and have considered her views carefully.”

“Today marks a sad day for sports in Kenya. We embarked on a journey of transformation that we hoped would see Kenya adapt to global best practices in respect to our sporting facilities. The proposition put forward to us by the minister for sports and SSMB - to co-brand the stadium with its current and former names - is against the spirit of granting exclusive naming rights to a sponsor,” Maditsi lamented. He defended the deal, saying rights of re-branding the stadium were granted lawfully and transparently.

This followed the publication of a notice to tender placed by SSMB in media advertisements in September 2008, to which Coca-Cola, among several other interested corporate entities, responded by bidding.



Simon said...

Well done Prof. Sambili. Coke know nothing about democracy, despite all their expensive propaganda and pretense to care about Kenyans, sport or anything else aside from profit. Kenya needs more leaders to stand up the sort of bullying that these multinational mete out to developing countries.

Anonymous said...

and what's so wrong with making a profit if Kenyans will benefit in the process...rather simplistic thinking here! Businesses exist to make profit but good business sense requires that you make a profit AND give back! Kenyans lost out on a deal and a half!