Kuwait’s Public Sports Authority (PSA) has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other major sports bodies to lift their suspension on a temporary basis and briefly end their current exile from world sport.
In a statement published by the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the PSA urged International Federations (IFs) to “lift the ban on Kuwaiti sports activities temporarily until relevant local laws are revised”.
They claim the step “is part of the Kuwaiti Government’s serious and relentless efforts” to have the suspension revoked.
It comes after Kuwait's Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah wrote a letter to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) asking for the governing body to “agree to temporarily lift the suspension imposed on Kuwaiti sport activity for enabling the Kuwaiti athletes to participate in the qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup”.
In a statement, the AFC agreed to extend the deadline for Kuwait to be accepted as a member of FIFA to January 11.
They had initially been given until yesterday to fulfil the criteria for reinstatement into FIFA, which would then allow them to attempt to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup.
Kuwait was suspended by the IOC in October 2015 for Government interference, with FIFA and numerous other International Federations swiftly following suit.
The AFC, led by President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, accepted the request but warned Kuwaiti officials the January 11 date would be final.
“Should the situation regarding the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) not have changed, the Kuwaiti team will be replaced in the draw,” the AFC said.
On Wednesday (December 21), legislators voted in favour of setting up a committee to debate the prospect of revising local sports laws.
Sheikh Salman Sabah then claimed the following day that the country has "honoured all commitments" to be re-integrated back into international sport.
Athletes from Kuwait were only able to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics independently under the Olympic Flag as the Sports Ministry introduced a new law giving them the power to take over all sports bodies and National Federations, as well as being able to control decisions including appointments and financial matters.
Sheikh Salman now claims to be fully committed to making the required changes.
But opponents hit back and accused him of stalling for time by giving a six-month window for appealing the law.
The KOC had been dissolved following the passing of the new law along with national governing bodies for football, swimming, handball, basketball and judo.
All nine bodies had been replaced by "Interim Committees" led by figures seen as loyal to the Sports Ministry.
Both the IOC and FIFA threatened legal action against these rival bodies and claim they will never be recognised.
“Kindly be advised that the Kuwaiti Government and National Assembly, in consultation and coordination with the IOC and International Sports Federations, intend to issue a developed sports law in compliance with the Olympic Charter and Kuwaiti Constituation,” the letter added.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti IOC member and President of the Olympic Council of Asia and Association of National Olympic Committees, is also an AFC representative on the FIFA Executive Committee.
He is considered a rival of Sheikh Salman, his cousin, and their personal animosity is thought to have contributed to the recent struggles.
Sheikh Salman stood unsuccessfully in 2014 to replace Mexico's Olegario Vázquez Raña as President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), in an election where his defeat followed insidethegames revelations that he had been using his Government position to try to influence voters.
He blamed allies of Sheikh Ahmad for his defeat and this is thought to have prompted his subsequent support for the law changes.