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FIFA postpones Kuwait next World Cup qualifying match – Becker backs Beckenbauer in World Cup graft row

ZURICH, Nov 13, (Agencies): FIFA has postponed Kuwait’s next World Cup qualifying match because its federation is suspended from international soccer for government interference.

Kuwait was to play at Myanmar in neutral Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday in an Asian qualifying group.

FIFA says “taking into account the suspension, the match cannot take place.”

The ban was imposed last month after the FIFA executive committee – including Kuwaiti royal Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah – set Kuwait a deadline to change its sports law. The IOC also suspended Kuwait.

It is unclear when the postponed match can be played. Kuwait already has two qualifiers scheduled in March when the current group phase ends.

Kuwait is second behind South Korea in Group G. Eight group winners and the four best runners-up advance to the next round.

Meanwhile, German tennis legend Boris Becker on Friday lent his support to Franz Beckenbauer, who is under pressure over corruption allegations surrounding Germany’s hosting of the 2006 World Cup.

“One knows who his friends are in difficult times! Franz Beckenbauer is one of the most important Germans… I worship him as ‘Kaiser’!”, tweeted Becker.

Beckenbauer, 70, headed up Germany’s organising committee for the 2006 World Cup finals, the awarding of which has become the subject of a police investigation here after magazine Spiegel made allegations that FIFA votes were bought in 2000.

At the centre of the scandal is a 6.7 million-euro ($7.2m) payment, which is alleged to have been used to purchase the support of FIFA’s executive committee.

The scandal took a dramatic twist last week when police carried out raids at the Frankfurt headquarters of the German Football Association (DFB) and led to Wolfgang Niersbach resigning as DFB president on Monday.

‘The Kaiser’ has remained silent publicly, saying he reserved his comments for investigators.

But on Tuesday, he came under renewed pressure when the DFB confirmed reports of a draft agreement, signed in part by Beckenbauer, which daily Bild claims was aimed at buying “votes for the German bid” in July 2000 — just four days before Germany was awarded the 2006 World Cup. At a press conference on Friday following talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the DFB to “shed light on everything that happened in a transparent manner”.

Former Trinidad and Tobago player David Nakhid on Friday lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) contesting FIFA’s decision to disqualify him as a presidential candidate.

Both Nakhid, 51, and his lawyer Jalal El-Mir were in Lausanne on Friday to present his case before CAS, arguing there was a violation of FIFA’s electoral regulations. “I believe that a proper and impartial review by the CAS will reveal that my client is a serious and qualified contender who was treated unjustly,” said El-Mir.

“We can only hope for a speedy hearing given the critical time-line for this special campaign.”

Nakhid’s candidacy was invalidated because he only received four valid nomimations out of FIFA’s 209 member national association and presidential candidates required five.

It is understood one national association nominated both Nakhid and another candidate.

CAS are expected to give their decision within a few weeks, with the FIFA election scheduled for February 26.

FIFA have declared five candidates eligible to run — Prince Ali Al Hussein, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino and Tokyo Sexwale.

The candidacy of UEFA chief Michel Platini will be considered once his 90-day suspension by FIFA’s ethics committee is over.

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