Qatar has offered Kuwait a chance to host the prestigious regional Gulf Cup Football tournament. The offer was made by Qatar Football Association president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani.
Kuwait was banned by FIFA over alleged government interference. The ban was lifted after the country’s parliament passed a new sports law on Sunday in accordance with the world football governing body’s requirements.
The Gulf Cup is scheduled to begin in Doha later this month, however, due to the ongoing crisis the participation of the blockading countries have refused to send their teams to Qatar.
The tournament’s rules require the presence of five teams for it to go ahead, but Kuwait’s ban meant that only four countries – hosts Qatar, Oman, Yemen and Iraq – were left in contention, making the event a non-starter.
Kuwait missed the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers due because of the ban.
But FIFA chief Infantino flew to Kuwait yesterday to meet with officials before making the eagerly-awaited announcement in the afternoon, bringing the country back into the international football fold.
“The suspension of the Kuwait football association is lifted,” Infantino said on Twitter, much to the joy of Kuwaiti fans.
QFA chief Sheikh Hamad congratulated Kuwait saying it was a happy occasion for Kuwait as well as for the Gulf Cup football fans.
“We congratulate Kuwait on the occasion of the lifting of their ban and we wish the Kuwaiti football team the very best in the future,” he said.
Sheikh Hamad had earlier said that the Gulf Cup would be incomplete without Kuwait who have dominated the tournament by winning it 10 times.
He added that the Arabian Gulf Cup Football Federation, of which he is the president, will hold a meeting next week to discuss the matter further and work out the modalities in case Kuwait decides to take up the offer.
If Kuwait accepts the offer then the participation of blockading states can also be expected.
It may be noted that the 23rd edition of the tournament was supposed to be hosted by Kuwait originally but moved to Qatar after FIFA decided to ban Kuwait.