Autonomy Issues Remain in Kuwait and Kenya

(ATR) AFC refuses to recognize interim Kuwait football Association; Kenyan Olympic Committee officials released on bail.

The newly-appointed chairman of the Kuwaiti football association (KFA) Fawaz al-Hassawi, speaks during a press conference on August 28, 2016 at the KFA headquarters in Kuwait City.
Kuwait announced on August 25, 2016 that it had sacked the board of directors of both its Olympic committee and football association. Sheikh Fahd Jaber al-Ali has been named as the new head of the Olympic committee, replacing Sheikh Talal Fahad al-Sabah. Fawaz al-Hassawi has been chosen to lead the football association. / AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat        (Photo credit should read YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
The newly-appointed chairman of the Kuwaiti football association (KFA) Fawaz al-Hassawi, speaks during a press conference on August 28, 2016 at the KFA headquarters in Kuwait City. Kuwait announced on August 25, 2016 that it had sacked the board of directors of both its Olympic committee and football association. Sheikh Fahd Jaber al-Ali has been named as the new head of the Olympic committee, replacing Sheikh Talal Fahad al-Sabah. Fawaz al-Hassawi has been chosen to lead the football association. / AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat (Photo credit should read YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) The Asian Football Confederation follows in the footsteps of the IOC, choosing not to recognize the interim Kuwait Football Association.

The Public Authority for Sports in Kuwait dissolved the Kuwait Olympic Committee and Kuwait Football Association on Aug. 25 and set up interim committees for both organizations. On Aug. 29 the IOC sent a letter to the sports minister saying it would not recognize the interim NOC or any decisions it made.

The letter came one day after the Kuwait government sent police into the offices of the KFA in a show of force to remove the football officials from office.

"The AFC was also appalled to hear of the reported threats made by the Kuwait government to use police to take over the Kuwait FA headquarters unless they were vacated," the AFC said in a statement.

AFC has instructed its member associations not to deal with any of the newly appointed officials.

"Any form of government interference in the running of a Member Association is in breach of the FIFA and AFC Statutes," AFC says.

The KFA and KOC remain banned by FIFA and the IOC due to the sports laws in Kuwait which severely limit the autonomy of its sports organization. The ban resulted in Kuwaiti athletes competing under the Olympic flag at Rio 2016 and its national football team being barred from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Kenya Investigation into NOC Could Lead to IOC Action

The IOC could step in and suspend the Kenyan Olympic Committee for the autonomyviolations of its government, a similar path it took with the Kuwait NOClast October.

‘The IOC is following the situation of the NOC of Kenya very closely," an IOC spokesperson tells Around the Rings. "The IOCis currently investigating the situation, however we will not accept anyaction or interference from government authorities that would goagainst the basic principles and rules of the Olympic Charter."

"Thelatest statements and actions by government authorities against the NOCof Kenya indicate that the jurisdiction and autonomy of the NOC arebeing threatened. If the situation is not rectified, the IOC might beforced to consider protective measures."

NOC-K secretary general Francis Paul and vice chairman Pius Ochieng are being investigated for alleged mismanagement of the Olympic team at Rio 2016 but are no longer in jail.

The two officials were released on bond of approximately $2,000 on Monday despite a request from prosecutors that they be held for 21 days.

"I am alive to the fact that this matter has elicited public interest, at the same time I appreciate that the suspects have a right to liberty and the right to be released on bond unless there are compelling reasons not to," said Nairobi Magistrate Charity Oluoch.

The judge also seized their passports and says they may not have contact with the other Kenyan Olympic Committee officials during the investigation. The NOC-K was disbanded by the Kenyan sports minister upon its return from Rio.

NOC-K president Kipchoge Keino has not been arrested but is cooperating with authorities in the investigation. He was grilled by police for several hours on Tuesday.

Kenya’s Chef de Mission Stephen Arap Soi will appear in court on Sep. 19 alongside Paul and Ochieng to combat the allegations. Soi was already granted bail for medical reasons and is currently in the hospital.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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