Raila Odinga has vowed to ensure Kenya hosts the Fifa World Cup if elected.
Odinga, 78, is an ardent football fan and considered by pundits among the favourites to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the August 2022 polls.
He is contesting for the presidency on an Azimio la Umoja coalition.
Odinga made the comments at the Mumias Sports Complex during the launch of the Elijah Lidonde Memorial club football tournament.
“We will build good facilities that will enable our players be comfortable when playing football,” said Odinga.
“That includes this complex (Mumias). The one in Kakamega (Bukhungu stadium) we will upgrade because we have plans to host the Africa Cup of Nations. Then later on, we will look at hosting the World Cup.”
Odinga wondered why countries with smaller economies including Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Burkina Faso had successfully managed to host the Africa Cup of Nations, and not Kenya.
Kenya has on two occasions been handed the hosting rights for both the Africa Cup of Nations (in 1996) and Africa Nations Championship (2018) but failed to host the continental events owing to a lack of required infrastructure in place.
“We will also make sure Mombasa has a modern stadium. We will build more in Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Kericho so that our youth have proper training facilities including gymnasium.”
The Fifa World Cup is the most popular sports competition, consisting 32 football nations that qualify via a play-off. Some of the popular teams at the competition are Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, France, Cameroon, Senegal. Kenya has never qualified to play at the Fifa World Cup.
South Africa is the only African nation to have hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
The tournament is held every four years by a country or countries chosen via competitive bidding and depending on type of infrastructure, logistics, hotels and transport among others.
Kenya will need approximately Sh200 billion to upgrade its infrastructure so as to host the World Cup.
Odinga is an ardent fan of Arsenal and Harambee Stars, and former professional footballer.
Kenya is currently banned by Fifa from competing in international football following reports of government interference.
— TV47 Kenya (@tv47ke) July 9, 2022