By Andrew Warshaw
May 9 – Representatives of Kuwaiti clubs are planning to be in Mexico City later this week to drum up support against FIFA’s decision to ban the Gulf state over government interference in sport.
Last October FIFA joined several other global sporting bodies in suspending Kuwait from international events and competitions. A request to lift the ban and allow Kuwait to vote at February’s FIFA presidential electoral congress was rejected, with the case adjourned until this week’s Congress in Mexico when a call for re-instatement is expected to be raised again.
That has come too late for Kuwait to take part in the Asian World Cup 2018 qualifiers and a pressure group has now been formed in an effort to prevent football in the country from “dying”.
“Kuwait football has been unfairly suspended by FIFA for over half a year and the impact at the grassroots and elite levels have been devastating,” the Kuwait Football Clubs grouping said in a statement. “With Kuwait missing out on opportunities to be part of the 2018 World Cup as well as being banned from all international competitions, football in the country is dying.”
Four of Kuwait’s players who competed in the 1982 World Cup – the only finals the country has qualified for – have recently been touring the Gulf region lobbying to have the suspension overturned. One of them, Saad Al-Houti, the official spokesman for the Kuwait Football Clubs, denounced the lethargy of Kuwait’s national association.
“We cannot understand why the board of the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) just sits by and does nothing to lift this unfair suspension,” he said.
“We have stated time and time again that there has been no interference by the government in our sport, we freely approved the KFA statues without any influence since 2012 and these are still enforced today. Furthermore, we enjoy full autonomy in the FA as confirmed by all the clubs at the last General Assembly and in our letter to FIFA in October 2015 – and yet we have been suspended.”
“Because of this suspension our players are leaving, our coaches are leaving – our sport is dying – while the Kuwait FA remains silent and does not support us. We hope that the Kuwait FA and its board act positively to defend football in our country and help the clubs in lifting the unfair ban as Kuwait Football is currently suffering the collateral damage.
“With the FIFA Congress just around the corner and the decision to remove the suspension against Kuwait on the agenda, the Kuwait Football Clubs are turning to the FIFA family and all its FIFA Members for their support. As a passionate football nation, we fully embrace FIFA’s Fair Play principles, this situation cannot be justified and has to change. We call on the world of football to raise its voice and put an end to the injustice happening to Kuwait. Now is the time to bring back Fair Play into FIFA and lift the suspension of Kuwait Football. Let our players play!”
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