NAIROBI, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Kenya Sevens team preparations and participation in the Rugby World Cup are in jeopardy after a deal it had entered with its sponsors was cancelled Thursday by the government.
This comes days after the Kenya team players opted to block sponsorship signage on their shirts at the final round of the World Series in Paris on June 10 in protest for non-payment of their allowances, which had accrued to 40,000 U.S. dollars by Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
"You can't promise to give us publicity and then in an international event we lose that publicity. No way, not under my docket. They can do it in other dockets not mine. KRU we are disappointed. We thought you guys are professionals but we are disappointed," Sports Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Balala added that the move embarrassed the country injuring the plans to promote Kenya as a tourism destination.
KRU had signed a deal with Brand Kenya to have the Sevens team wear shirts branded with 'Make it Kenya'. The deal cost 200,000 dollars.
Just before the contract was signed, KRU had threatened to pull out all the national teams from competing at the global level after their former sponsor SportPesa had stopped their contracts with Kenya teams citing exorbitant government taxation of its proceedings. The government then promised to intervene and pay all KRU expenses.
However, now with their new sponsor out and the government not paying, uncertainty remains over the Sevens team preparations and participation at the World Cup.
Kenya will face-off with Tonga in their first match at the World Cup where the winner will gain the right to play eighth seeded Scotland in the Round of 16 in new playing format released by World Rugby. The three-day Rugby World Cup Sevens is set for San Francisco, USA from July 20-22.