Kuwait’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs has Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah has claimed the country has “honoured all commitments” to be re-integrated back into international sport.
It comes on the eve of a deadline for Kuwait to be accepted as a member of FIFA imposed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) A in order to be eligible to compete at the Asian Cup in 2019.
Kuwait was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in October 2015 for Government interference, with FIFA and numerous other International Federations swiftly following suit.
Sheikh Salman, also a former President of the Asian Shooting Confederation, has been at the centre of the dispute.
Athletes from Kuwait were only able to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics independently under the Olympic Flag as the Sports Ministry introduced a new law giving them the power to take over all sports bodies and National Federations, as well as being able to control decisions including appointments and financial matters.
Sheikh Salman now claims to be fully committed to making the required changes.
But opponents claimed this week that he was stalling for time by giving a six month window for appealing the law.
“The Kuwait Government has honoured all commitments towards international sports organisations, with the youth interest being placed atop other priorities,” he was reported as saying by the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) following a special Parliamentary Session to discussed the issue.
“During this period of time we had contacted the KOC several times and I had personally met with them, offering solutions and amendments.
“However, these proposals had fallen on deaf ears, with no consideration whatsoever to the young athletes, the national teams or Kuwait’s reputation.
“We will work days and night to enable the National Assembly to work out the adequate legislation to lift the sports suspension.”
The KOC had been dissolved following the passing of the new law along with national governing bodies for football, swimming, handball, basketball and judo.
All nine bodies had been replaced by “Interim Committees” led by figures seen as loyal to the Sports Ministry.
Both the IOC and FIFA threatened legal action against these rival bodies and claim they will never be recognised.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti IOC member and President of the Olympic Council of Asia and Association of National Olympic Committees, is also an AFC representative on the FIFA Executive Committee.
He is considered a rival of Sheikh Salman, his cousin, and their personal animosity is thought to have contributed to the recent struggles.
Sheikh Salman stood unsuccessfully in 2014 to replace Mexico’s Olegario Vázquez Raña as President of the ISSF, in an election where his defeat followed insidethegames revelations that he had been using his Government position to try to influence voters.
He blamed allies of Sheikh Ahmad for his defeat and this is thought to have prompted his subsequent support for the law changes.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.