Sports News

Baffled Kuwait clubs plead with FIFA to end ban

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Kuwait’s clubs are baffled by their country’s exclusion from international soccer and have urged FIFA to end the dispute they say they have nothing to do with.

The Kuwait FA (KFA) was suspended by FIFA in October after soccer’s governing body said a draft sports law constituted interference in the nation’s soccer association.

The clubs have sent a delegation, headed by the captain of the country’s 1982 World Cup side, to lobby national soccer associations to vote for an end to the ban at Friday’s annual FIFA Congress.

“There is nothing that can be considered to be against the FIFA statutes,” Kuwaiti MP Abdullah al-Maayouf told Reuters. “Much of the information that FIFA gets is wrong.

“What is very strange is they placed us under these sanctions before any law was passed, it was just a draft. We cannot be banned for something that has not happened.”

The suspension means Kuwait teams cannot play international matches, including World Cup qualifiers, international club competitions, transfer players abroad or receive FIFA funds.

The nation has also been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), putting Kuwait’s participation at the Rio de Janeiro Games in August in doubt.

However, sources close to the Kuwait clubs said some sporting federations had looked at the situation and found no grounds for suspension.

A letter from FIFA to the KFA in October, seen by Reuters, said the ban would only be lifted when “the Kuwait FA and its members (the clubs) will be able to carry out their activities and obligations independently”.

The delegation includes former mid fielder Saad Al-Houti who captained Kuwait’s 1982 World Cup team.

“This is very hard to accept,” he said. “We just want to show we are separate from the government and we want to return things as they were before because this is doing us very great harm.”

Al-Houti is hoping that, following Gianni Infantino’s election as FIFA president in September, soccer’s governing body can be more sympathetic.

“Three are new leaders in the FIFA so we hope they will be more understanding of the problems and find a solution,” he said.

Editing by Tony Jimenez