November 2 – After a lengthy period in the footballing wilderness, Kuwaiti clubs have elected the head of a new-look federation that hopes to win back recognition from FIFA and end a ban from international tournaments over alleged government interference that has crippled the sport in the Gulf country.
Sheikh Ahmad al-Yusef al-Sabah said his first priority would be to persuade football’s world governing body to restore Kuwait’s membership.
World sports bodies led by FIFA and the International Olympic Committee suspended Kuwait in October 2015 for the second time since 2010 over alleged government meddling in sports. It has been barred from taking part in qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, the 2019 Asian Cup, and before that the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In 2016, amid a power struggle within Kuwait’s elite, authorities dissolved Kuwait’s sports bodies including its Olympic committee and football federation.
It later set up temporary committees in their place, but FIFA and the IOC have refused to recognise them.
After Tuesday’s election, al-Sabah said he had “many goals, first and foremost lifting the suspension”.
The new federation “has given me a bigger responsibility than I was expecting,” he added.
The world bodies have imposed three conditions for accepting Kuwait back: it must issue a new sports law in line with international treaties, drop lawsuits it brought against the world governing bodies and re-instate its original sports committees.
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