Kuwait’s government is reportedly planning to dissolve every one of its national sports federations, including its National Olympic Committee, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] upheld a FIFA decision to ban the Kuwait Football Association over government interference.
Last September FIFA and the International Olympic Committee moved preemptively against the KFA and the Kuwait Olympic Committee over a new sports law the government planned to implement in October 2015.
The international sports authorities warned that elements of the new law created “issues” over the “autonomy” of sport and demanded they be repealed before their introduction.
The Kuwaiti government declined to act — prompting FIFA and the IOC to enforce their threatened sanctions. FIFA’s ban was also extended against Kuwaiti clubs in international competition, who raised an appeal against FIFA through CAS.
However, Kuwait Sporting Club, the Kuwaiti Premier League champions, and their fellow litigants Al-Arabi, Al-Fahaheel, Kazma and Salmiya discovered on Monday that CAS had found in favour of FIFA.
Now, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai is reporting that sports sources expect government will react to the CAS decision by repealing the laws that offend FIFA and the IOC. However, it is not expected the Kuwaiti government will stop there.
“The first step the Public Sport Authority will start to take after cancelling the law is to dissolve all the national sport federations and the national Olympic committee,” Al Rai wrote.
“The sources believed that these initial procedures will keep the influential [people] and troublemakers away from sport and those people who created corruption in sport in Kuwait and who protect personal interests ahead of the interest of Kuwait and its youth.”
It is highly unlikely FIFA and the IOC will approve of the proposed measure and if it is enacted will surely take the same stern view over government interference that precipitated the bans currently in place. After the CAS judgement on Monday, there is no questioning the legal basis for the current ban.
“The appeal by the Kuwaiti clubs against the decision rendered on 16 October 2015 by FIFA is dismissed,” the CAS ruling read. “The decision rendered by FIFA is upheld. The costs of the arbitration, to be determined and served to the parties, shall be borne by [the Kuwaiti clubs]. Each party shall bear its own legal costs.”
Kuwait has already been suspended several times before from the international football and Olympic movement due to government interference in sport’s affairs. In 1986 the government enforced for the first time laws permitting its unlimited authority over NOCs and national federation, conferring the right to dissolve them, which had been enacted in 1978.
The ban was later overturned when the Kuwaiti government withdrew its control from the NOC and the KFA. Then FIFA suspended and readmitted Kuwait again in 2007 and 2009, before banning it again in 2010. On that occasion, after a prolonged suspension, it seemed the issue had been resolved after new laws were drawn up in 2012 around the Olympic Charter and FIFA rules.
But the provisions in the 2012 law recognizing sports arbitration and CAS, WADA Code compliance were overturned last year in another new set of laws also permitting once more the dissolution of national federations and the NOC.
Inevitably, FIFA and the IOC acted again to expel Kuwait, a decision reinforced by the recent CAS appeal by Kuwaiti football clubs. It is anticipated that Kuwait’s parliament will issue new laws next week giving the minister for information, sport and youth affairs, Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud, once more full executive control over sport in the country.
It all points to a lengthy spell in the international sporting wilderness for Kuwait.
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.