In March 2015, Rwanda hired an Irishman Johnathan McKinstry also known as Johnny, as head coach for the national football team Amavubi paying him $11,000 as monthly salary (about Rwf 7.5m at the time).
Little did the authorities know he would be laughing hard to the bank later to pick a large sum of money accumulated as fines from a hasty decision to fire him.
The Federation of International Football (FIFA) has given the Rwanda football federation FERWAFA an ultimatum to make sure they pay outstanding salaries to McKinstry by April 25, 2019.
Coincidentally, the FIFA decision was communicated to Rwanda on March 25 – exactly four years after McKinstry was hired back in March 2015.
A year later in March 2016, McKinstry was confirmed for a two-year contract extension. McKinstry was to continue his work to develop the men’s national team, as well as the National U23 team.
But then, in August the same year, McKinstry was sacked after a string of poor results and failing to guide the team to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations which was hosted in Gabon.
Two years later, after wrangling between the fired coach, FIFA and FERWAFA, Rwanda’s governing body was ordered by FIFA to pay $180,000 for unlawful dismissal.
FERWAFA at the time described the decision as “harsh”, insisting it won’t pay it until the last avenue had been explored.
It seems, the longer they waited hoping for a lenient verdict from FIFA’s arbitration bodies, the more the charges increased.
Under McKinstry’s guidance, the Amavubi home-based professionals made it to the quarter-finals of African Championship in 2016 on home soil.
After reviewing the case as passed by the Single Judge of the Players’ Status Committee and FERWAFA on April 17, 2018, the Member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Lord Veehala from Togo passed the following decisions:
The Fédération Rwandaise de Football Association (hereinafter, the Debtor) was found to have infringed article 64 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code as it is guilty of failing to comply with the decision passed by the Single Judge of the Players’ Status Committee on 17 April 2018 according to which it was ordered to pay:
a) To the coach Johnathan McKinstry (hereinafter, the Creditor); -USD 182,000 and CHF 1,300 plus 5% interest p.a. as from 30 January 2017 until the date of effective payment.
b) To FIFA: -CHF 20,000 corresponding to the costs of the proceedings imposed by the Single Judge of the Players’ Status Committee.
c) The Debtor (FERWAFA) is ordered to pay a fine to the amount of CHF 15,000. The fine is to be paid within 30 days of notification of the present decision, meaning that the deadline for paying the total fine of USD $ 217,195 (Approx. Rwf. 195,299,149) as requested by FIFA amounting is on March 25, 2019.
Should the Rwandan federation fail to pay the staggering amount, then Rwanda will be banned from all FIFA-sanctioned activities as per the football governing body rules.
Ferwafa remains with nine days to finalize the payment or face heavy sanctions.
McKinstry, 33, is currently head coach at Saif Sporting Club, in Bangladesh, which incidentally signed Rwanda international Emery Bayisenge at the end of last year as a free agent.
Before his sacking, McKinstry had just signed a one-year contract extension that would have ended in May 2017.
He failed to qualify Amavubi for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals tournament, having lost 2-3 to Mozambique in Kigali in the latest qualifier, in addition to 1-0 defeats to visitors Ghana and hosts Mauritius.
Besides guiding Rwanda to the round of last eight at CHAN 2016, McKinstry also helped his youthful side to the title match of the 2015 CECAFA Senior Challenge in Ethiopia where they lost to Uganda.
McKinstry also previously managed Sierra Leone national team between 2013 and 2014, and FK Kauno Žalgiris, in the Lithuania top tier, last year.