Kuwait calls for temporary waiver of sports ban

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 23, (AFP): The Kuwaiti government on Friday called on FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to temporarily lift a 14-month sports ban while it amends a controversial law. Kuwait’s Public Sports Authority urged football’s governing body FIFA and the IOC to “lift the ban on Kuwaiti sports activities temporarily until relevant local laws are revised.” World sports bodies led by FIFA and the IOC suspended Kuwait in October last year for the second time since 2010 over alleged government meddling in sports.

The suspension was due to legislation over recent years that allowed the government to interfere in local sports federations and undermine their independence. In a statement Friday published by the official KUNA news agency, Kuwait’s sports authority said it was making “serious and relentless efforts” to have the ban lifted. It said Parliament would set up a panel on Tuesday next week to draft amendments to the relevant laws. Kuwait is hoping to compete in the qualifiers for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, it said. The country has already missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

The government on Monday pledged in a letter to parliament to issue a new law within six months, conforming with the international sports charter, MP Abdulwahab al- Babtain said. The authority also pledged to invite FIFA and the IOC to Kuwait to ensure the new legislation is agreed by all parties, Babtain said on his Twitter account. The opposition, which won nearly half of the 50 seats in a parliamentary election last month, pressed the government to rectify bills that violate international sports laws.

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