Police in Kisii have intensified a manhunt for a player who Friday punched a referee in the face during a local tournament in the region leading to his death.
The deceased, John Okwoyo, 65, was officiating a match between Ichuni Junior and Aspire FC at Gesabakwa playing ground as the first assistant referee when he met his sudden death.
According to Kisii County Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Secretary Evans Mageka, the player who allegedly killed the said referee was not playing for the two teams but had come to watch the match.
“The match was at 70 min when the incident happened. The player who hit the referee features for Ichuni senior which was taking part in the tournament but on that day he was cheering for Ichuni Junior,” Mageka told Nation Sport.
He added that the tournament was not approved by the federation. This comes at a time when the government is yet to announce the resumption of lower tier sporting activities in the country.
However, it has emerged that local tournaments and friendly matches are going on in Gusii region despite the ban.
Ichuni Junior was leading 1-0 at half-time but after resumption their opponents were awarded a penalty and equalised.
The decision, Mageka says, prompted the 27-year-old player to punch the assistant referee on the touchline for allegedly making a wrong call in awarding the penalty something that forced the centre referee to stop the match.
At first, authorities thought Okwoyo suffered only minor injuries from the assault but after being taken to a local hospital, doctors discovered he had suffered serious internal head injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival.
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“He loved soccer so much and we just never thought this was going to happen. He loved what he did and it was his passion” said his son Frank Okwoyo, a presenter at a local station in Kisii.
Kisii County police commander Jebel Munene told Nation Sport that police were following crucial trails to close in on the suspect. He said once arrested, the suspect will be charged with assault.
“The suspect managed to run away after the incident but police are on the ground hunting for him. The body of the deceased was moved to Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital awaiting postmortem,” said Munene.
The recent incident mirrors another one that happened in August where Shabana defender Evans Obutu succumbed to an injury he sustained during a friendly match.
Evans Obutu was featuring for a local team, Town Warriors which was playing against Patarion FC. He collided with the opponent’s goalkeeper and sustained a serious stomach injury and passed on while receiving treatment at Nyangena hospital.