BERNE (Reuters) - Kuwait, home to influential sports power broker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, were banned from international soccer on Friday because of government interference in the running of its Football Association.
“The suspension will be lifted only when the Kuwait Football Assocation (KFA) and its members (the clubs) are able to carry out their activities and obligations independently,” said soccer’s governing body FIFA in a statement.
Kuwait could be expelled from the World Cup qualifying competition if the situation is not resolved before their next game away to Myanmar on Nov. 17.
They are second in Group G in the second round of the Asian qualifying tournament.
Kuwait have twice previously been banned for government interference, in 2007 and 2008, and the current ban could have significant ramifications for the February elections to decide upon a new FIFA leader.
Sheikh Ahmad is a former oil minister, honorary president of the KFA, a member of FIFA’s executive committee member and president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
He carries significant sway in the 47-member Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Sheikh Ahmad told reporters in Berne, where he was attending a meeting of the FIFA Reform Committee, that he did not believe his country’s suspension would affect his work at FIFA.
The world governing body has traditionally taken a dim view of government interference and banned Kuwait’s fellow AFC members Indonesia for the offense in May which ruled them out of the ongoing World Cup qualifying campaign.
“No team from Kuwait of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact and neither the KFA nor any of its members or officials can benefit from any development program, course or training from FIFA or the AFC,” said FIFA.
Additional reporting by Simon Evans in Zurich; editing by Martyn Herman