Football and swimming among sports sued by Kuwait Government in latest escalation of crisis

 

National Federations representing basketball, boxing and weightlifting, football, swimming and volleyball have been sued by the Kuwait Government as relations been sport and political authorities continue to deteriorate in the country.

Basketball, football, swimming and weightlifting bodies have each been told to pay 5,001 dinar (£11,400/$16,500/€15,200) from each Sheikh as a part of a lawsuit seeking compensation for the country facing the prospect of missing Rio 2016. 

Representatives from the Kuwait Boxing and Weightlifting Association have been sanctioned, meanwhile, because they “impersonate the capacity of the chairman and executive members of the Association without legal proof”.

The election at which these appointments were made, including that of the chairman Hazzam Tami Al-Tami, were not recognised by the Government.

Last week the Kuwait Government announced they had launched legal action against Association of National Olympic Committees and Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah for 5,001 dinar.

They demanded the same sum from his brother, Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) President Sheikh Talal Al-Fahad Al Sabah.

It was part of a bigger action against the KOC seeking $1.3 billion (£901 million/€1.2 billion) in compensation after Kuwait was suspended last October by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), allegedly to protect the country from “undue Government interference” following the passing of a deadline to amend a controversial new law allowing far greater control over all sports bodies.

Sheikh Talal, also President of the Kuwait Football Association, has now been sued for another 5,001 dinar. 

He has today accused the Government of taking “vindictive measures to justify its attitude locally”.

This includes alleged “threats and lobbying which were exercised on national federations’ Presidents to deliver a request, on behalf of the KOC, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to repeal the IOC’s decision”.

Athletes from Kuwait will not be able to compete at the Games in Rio de Janeiro in August unless the ban is lifted because the Government plan to stop them competing under the Olympic Flag, as has happened in the past when a National Olympic Committee is suspended.

As it stands, there appears no chance of reconciliation, with the latest lawsuits marking a further blow.

The issue appears to be deeply political in origin, stretching back to Sheikh Ahmad making public allegations three years ago against two powerful Government Ministers.

He claimed that former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and former speaker Jassem Mohammad Abdul-Mohsem Al-Karafi had laundered money, misused public funds and plotted to topple the Government.

These were eventually dismissed as “fabrications”, however, and he had to apologise to the ruling Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

The Kuwait Misdemeanour Court last month found Shiekh Ahmad guilty of insulting the judiciary and sentenced him to a six-month prison sentence.

They also fined him 1,000 dinar (£2,200/$3,300/€3,000).

At the heart of a dispute is the personal rivalry between Sheikh Ahmad and Kuwait’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homud Al-Sabah.

Sheikh Salman had stood unsuccessfully in 2014 to replace Mexico’s Olegario Vázquez Raña as President of the International Shooting Sport Federation but was defeated after insidethegames revealed he had been using his Government position to try to influence voters.

Sheikh Salman remains President of the Kuwait Shooting Federation, which has not been named in the lawsuit.

insidethegames understands that Sheikh Ahmad is focusing on his OCA and ANOC responsibilities rather than taking a leading role in negotiations.

The country was previously banned for two-years before being reinstated ahead of the Olympics at London 2012.

An IOC official told insidethegames last week that the initial lawsuits against Sheikh Ahmad and Sheikh Talal were an “outrageous overreaction”.

The OCA have also been ordered to vacate their headquarters building in Kuwait City by April, which now appears a key deadline if any improvement is to be made.

Sheikh Talal claimed in a statement today that what is most upsetting is that, “as a result of this interference, our dedicated athletes becoming the real victims”.

“Thus we urge the Kuwaiti Government to respect the Olympic Charter and the principles of antonomy in sport,” he added.

“I, and my colleagues, will remain ready to find a solution to these matters at the earliest opportunity, for the benefit of all of our athletes.”

By Nick Butler  this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz

 

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