January 3 – Kuwait’s exile from the international football wilderness, including 2018 World Cup qualifying, looks set to continue after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to temporarily lift its suspension on the Gulf state that has now been in place for 14 months.
FIFA has been following the IOC’s lead until it is satisfied that Kuwait has sufficiently amended controversial sport laws.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had already extended the deadline over a decision of whether to allow the country to participate in the AFC Asian Cup United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2019 qualifying rounds at the request of the KFA. The AFC Competitions Committee had agreed to consider the status of Kuwait if there is sufficient progress towards the lifting of the suspension by FIFA by January 11, 2017 – the day after the next meeting of the FIFA Council. The AFC said the January 11 deadline will be final and if the situation is unchanged Kuwait team will be replaced with a draw which will take place on January 23 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Just before Christmas Kuwaiti sports authorities asked both FIFA and the IOC to “temporarily lift the suspension that hits the Kuwaiti sports until local laws are corrected.”
They insisted they were making “serious efforts” to conform to requirements but in response, the IOC said it “was not prepared to reconsider the situation” until Kuwait follows certain rules compatible with the Olympic Charter.
“The situation has deteriorated significantly in recent months due to a series of decisions taken in violation of the principles and rules of the Olympic Charter which forced the IOC to respond accordingly and to reiterate its position,” said an IOC letter which also called on the country to restore the Kuwait Olympic Committee and dissolve ” any parallel body appointed by the Kuwaiti authorities but not recognized by the IOC.”
Late last year, FIFA told Kuwait it would remain in global exile so long as the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) continued to be run by government officials.
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