KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: World football federation FIFA has matched the International Olympic Committee in slapping down Kuwait’s attempt to set up substitute sports authorities and threatening legal action.
Kuwait was banned last year by both FIFA and the IOC after a row sparked by a dispute over an election to the International Shooting Federation but which was a mere cover for a power struggle within the governing royal family.
Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homud Al-Sabah, the Minister of Information and Youth Affairs, enacted a sports law which was held by the IOC and FIFA to undermine the autonomy of national associations; Sheikh Fahad Jaber Al Ali Al Sabah was appointed head of an ‘interim’ national Olympic committee.
On the other side of the fence are FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and his brother Sheikh Talal Al Fahad Al-Sabah.
Sheikh Ahmad is also president of the Olympic Council of Asia, of the Association of National Olympic Committees and of Olympic Solidarity; Sheikh Talal is president of the (suspended) Kuwait Olympic Committee and the national football association.
At the start of this month the attempt by Sheikh Salman and Sheikh Fahad Jaber to set up a replacement KOC was roundly rejected by the IOC.
FIFA has now followed suit in relation to Kuwaiti football and the government’s creation of its own new domestic football association.
Fatma Soumara, FIFA’s secretary-general, has written to the Kuwaitis in a letter which “strongly condemns the dissolution of the KFA and the ensuing appointment of an ‘interim committee’ to replace its office bearers.”
She added: “FIFA continues to exclusively recognise the current president of the KFA, H.H. Sheikh Talal Fahad AI Sabah, and the current secretary-general, Saho Al Shammari, a5 the duly elected and, respectively, authorised representatives of the KFA.
“FIFA will not accept any of its members to establish contact or sporting relations with the government appointed officials who claim to be representing the KFA, Moreover, FIFA will not recognize any action or decision taken by the government authorities or by the appointed ‘interim committee’ in contradiction to the FIFA, AFC or KFA statutes.”
Samoura, in conclusion, warned that FIFA would take legal action, if necessary, against “the consequences of any damages resulting from your illegal acts.”
The Kuwait government has already suffered one legal reverse.
Early this year the government failed in the Swiss civil courts with an appeal against its Olympic suspension. The court ordered it to pay $11,500 in legal costs. Kuwaiti athletes thus competed as independents under the Olympic flag in Rio where Fehaid Al-Deehani won gold in the double trap shooting.