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The New Arab

Anti-Doha Gulf states look to get Kuwait on-side with Qatar football tournament boycott

Qatar are the current holders of the Gulf Cup [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 October, 2017

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Gulf states currently blockading Qatar have tried to woo Kuwait by promising to boycott a football tournament in Doha unless a FIFA ban on Kuwait is lifted.
Gulf states blockading Qatar have threatened to boycott a football tournament due to be held in Doha in two months time, unless a FIFA ban on Kuwait's national team is lifted.

UAE Football Association President Marwan bin Ghalaita told Reuters he believes the Gulf Cup of Nations in Qatar should not go ahead this year, unless Kuwait - which is subject to a FIFA ban - is allowed to compete.

"If Kuwait played, this would solve a lot of things," said Ghalaita, according to Reuters. He has also informed organisers of the pan-Gulf games of his proposal regarding Kuwait.

FIFA banned Kuwait's football association in 2015, for alleged government interference in its affairs. The Zurich-based body has insisted the ban will only be lifted when Kuwait's football association assures FIFA is can act independently.

The announcement by the UAE football association reflects the wider political mood in the Gulf at present.

GCC states Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and being too close to regional rival Iran - which is excluded from the pan-Gulf tournament.

Kuwait and Oman are alone in the GCC crisis in remaining neutral in the spat, and both parties are trying to fix the political deadlock.

States that are part of an anti-Doha alliance might be looking at ways of avoiding the Gulf Cup of Nations - due to be held in Qatar in December and January - without losing face.

One way would be through the demand on Kuwait being included in the tournament, a matter which Qatar has no power over.

The decision of whether Kuwait's national team should or should not be banned lies solely in the hands of FIFA officials in Zurich.

The Gulf Cup is a pan-Gulf football tournament (excluding Iran) that includes Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman,  and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain launched the blockade on Qatar in June and has banned citizens from travelling to the country and jailed nationals for showing any sympathy for Doha.

Gulf states have also been accused of trying to scupper the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Saudi-led blockade has made many question whether the tournament in Qatar can go ahead. The 2015 Gulf Cup first due to be held in Iraq, and then Kuwait, was suspended and then cancelled over the FIFA ruling on the country's sports law.

The 2017 tournament can still proceed if five of the eight teams play in the tournament, but with Kuwait banned and three of the states boycotting Qatar, politics will have to stand aside to let the beautiful game play on.

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