KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday passed a new sports legislation with an overwhelming majority that the government and Assembly speaker said will pave the way for FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to lift Kuwait's two-year suspension from international sports. Forty-seven MPs, including resigned Cabinet ministers, voted for the law, three voted against and one lawmaker abstained.

Minister of Commerce and Industry and State Minister for Youth Affairs Khaled Al-Roudhan told the Assembly that they had extensive meetings in Doha with the world's football governing body FIFA to study ways to end Kuwait's suspension. He said that FIFA informed them that Kuwait should scrap 13 existing laws that govern sports and replace them with the new law for the ban to be lifted. He said FIFA asked for the law to be passed before Dec 4.

Roudhan however said that the approval of the law does not guarantee an automatic end to Kuwait's suspension from international football, which began in Oct 2015 over alleged Kuwaiti government meddling in local sports. A ban was also imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and as a result, Kuwait was banned from participating in last year's Olympic Games. Other major international sports federations slapped similar suspensions on the country, which barred the Kuwaiti football team from taking part in World Cup qualifying rounds.

Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he hoped the new legislation, which was approved in the required two rounds, will end Kuwait's absence from international sports. The session however did not pass without tensions. Several lawmakers said they will grill Roudhan if the ban is not lifted following the approval of the legislation. A number of lawmakers said they doubt that the new law is sufficient to secure ending the suspension, because it does not respond to the international sports bodies' three conditions.

The world bodies have set out 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 reinstate its original sports committees. Roudhan however said that a FIFA delegation reviewed the draft law and said it was sufficient.

By B Izzak