RIYADH, Dec 9 ― Qatar has agreed to transfer this month’s Gulf Cup of Nations soccer tournament back to Kuwait after Fifa lifted a two-year ban on the country’s football association, state news agency QNA reported today.
The transfer would go up for final approval by the Gulf Football Associations on Monday, QNA reported citing Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Thani, who heads both the Qatari federation and the regional body.
Fifa suspended Kuwait from participating in international football competitions in October 2015 over a government bill which it said interfered in the independence of the country’s FA and fell foul of Fifa statutes.
The global soccer body lifted the ban on Wednesday.
The change of venue could prove a breakthrough for this year’s championship, scheduled to start on December 22, as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain had planned not to attend the event in Qatar, organisers said last month.
The three countries cut ties with Qatar in June, including banning their citizens from visiting the fellow Gulf Arab state, over accusations that Qatar supports terrorism. Doha denies this.
The UAE Football Association’s president has said his country’s boycott was not related to the political crisis between Gulf states but rather was because the tournament should be played only if Kuwait could participate.
The Gulf Cup of Nations, which is held every two years and rotates location, usually involves Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman and Yemen. ― Reuters