FIFA and Kuwait

Muna Al Fuzai
Muna Al Fuzai

The FIFA Congress announced on Friday in Mexico City the continuation of the suspension of Kuwait’s football activities and rejected a proposal to lift the ban. At the gathering, 176 members voted yes to the continuation of the suspension, while only 13 members supported lifting the ban.

This result indicates that the world is completely convinced that the FIFA executive committee’s decision to ban Kuwait is a correct and proper decision. It was supported by 93 percent of the voters. Let’s remember that the decision to suspend Kuwait’s membership happened because local laws conflict with international laws.

Stopping Kuwaiti football’s activity internationally means that Kuwaiti teams of various categories, as well as clubs, will be forced to have no contacts with other teams, nor can the Kuwait Football Association take advantage of development and training programs provided by international and Asian bodies. The decision will stop Kuwait from participating in the qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and the Asian Cup in 2019 in the UAE, and also will freeze participation in the AFC Cup.

Once the decision was announced, many in the local community seemed surprised and upset, and started blaming some sheikhs for the failure, but no one seems to have the desire to ask why Kuwait got suspended in the first place. The ban has previously been endorsed twice by the FIFA executive committee, most recently in February. I believe we need to evaluate and assess the reasons for the failure in order to convince the world that the Kuwaiti sports law does not conflict with the Olympic Charter and stop trying to blame others for the government’s failure in setting rules.

Members of the FIFA Congress are not naive or hold personal grudges, which pushed them to vote against Kuwait. FIFA had also suspended Kuwait in 2007 and 2009 because it was considered that there was a direct violation of regulations, and FIFA is committed to the deadline set by the Kuwaiti FA to amend its laws. The International Olympic Committee has also given Kuwait a period of time to amend the law in accordance to international Olympic principles and respect the autonomy of sporting activities without any government interference.

There is no doubt that what happened at the FIFA Congress was a tough defeat for the government, and perhaps the strategy to deal with the matter was not enough. But blaming FIFA and accusing its members is a haphazard reaction and not acceptable. Resolving the crisis is simple and easy. It requires two courageous and transparent decisions. The first is to stop accusing individuals for being behind the failure and collapse of Kuwaiti sports, because this is not true.

The second is rewording articles of the law conflicting with the Olympic Charter, and this is not prejudicial to the sovereignty or independence of Kuwait, The text will be changed by legal experts. Many countries were forced to change several legal materials to conform to international law, and there is nothing wrong in this. What is important is to support the athletes to be present at all international forums and tournaments.

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