Gulf Cup to return to Kuwait following lifting of FIFA ban

FIFA president Gianni Infantino with Kuwaiti national assembly speaker Ghanim Marzouq before lifting the ban on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Gulf Cup to return to Kuwait following lifting of FIFA ban

DUBAI: The 23rd Gulf Cup of Nations will take place in Kuwait instead of Qatar, following the lifting of FIFA’s ban on Kuwaiti football, the tournament’s organizers said late last night.
“We congratulate the people of Kuwait and we are happy to see football return to the country,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, head of the Arabian Gulf Football Association.
“We have no problem in the Gulf Cup being moved back to Kuwait and it will take place in the agreed time”, added Al-Thani.
The competition was initially scheduled to take place in Kuwait in December last year, but was delayed by 12 months following the suspension of Kuwait Football Association.
Efforts to lift the suspension failed to deliver results as FIFA extended the isolation of Kuwaiti football in May 2017, and the Gulf Cup organizers agreed to move the 2017 edition to Qatar.
The diplomatic crisis involving Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain from one side and Qatar on the other saw the three Gulf nations sever ties with their neighbor and subsequently withdraw from the competition.
The Gulf Cup regulations state that at least five countries must participate in order for any edition of the tournament to go through, and with the three nations withdrawing and Kuwait suspended, the organizers found themselves facing the possibility of cancelling this year’s edition with only Qatar, Oman, Iraq and Yemen confirming their participation.
FIFA’s decision to reinstate Kuwait back into international football breathed new life into the Gulf Cup and the organizing rights return to Kuwait.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE are yet to confirm whether they will now join the other five countries in the competition which is scheduled to begin on Dec. 22 and continue through to the Jan. 5.
Meanwhile Asian Football Confederation regulations can cope with any political issues facing clubs from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who meet in next season’s AFC Champions League, General Secretary Windsor John said yesterday.
The crisis has seen Saudi Arabia and the UAE — along with Bahrain and Egypt — cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of financing terrorism.
Doha denies the charges.
Clubs from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were drawn to play each other on Wednesday in the group phase of the AFC Champions League, which kicks off in February, but John believes the confederation can weather the political storm.
“The AFC executive committee has made a decision that they would like all of the matches to be played as per the format, and I believe our regulations at AFC are solid enough to deal with any situation as we have done in the past,” John told Reuters.
“So we are confident there will be nothing done outside the regulations. The regulations cover every scenario, so we are good.
“We’ve just finished the 2017 competition and everybody talked about issues and problems and we finished it quite successfully. I think we want to build on the success rather than talk about other issues at the moment.
“The exco (executive committee) also decided a very high level delegation will go and explain the situation to all of the affected countries.
“I think it should be OK, so long as we follow the regulations. We have a good structure in place.”


Jose Mourinho plays down touchline melee after ‘awful’ Chelsea draw

Updated 20 October 2018
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Jose Mourinho plays down touchline melee after ‘awful’ Chelsea draw

  • Mourinho took exception to the celebrations of one of Chelsea’s backroom staff, Marco Ianni
  • Ross Barkley scored in the sixth minute of injury time to level the match at 2-2

LONDON: Jose Mourinho played down an ugly touchline melee after watching his Manchester United side concede a heartbreaking late equalizer as Chelsea preserved their unbeaten Premier League record on Saturday.
Ross Barkley scored in the sixth minute of injury time to level the match at 2-2 after Anthony Martial had scored twice in the second half to cancel out Antonio Rudiger’s opener.
Mourinho took exception to the celebrations of one of Chelsea’s backroom staff, Marco Ianni, who ran in front of the Portuguese on the touchline, as he seemed set for a sweet victory over his old club.
When asked about the incident, former Chelsea boss Mourinho said: “Oh come on, I can tell you that 97 minutes of the game was so good that you have to focus on that.
“I did not get respect back from Chelsea (fans) but that is not my responsibility. What I did here today I will do in Madrid, in Milan, in Porto, the reaction from the fans is not up to me.
“I am not annoyed with anything. What happened with (Maurizio) Sarri’s assistant, Sarri was the first one to come to me and say he will resolve it.
“The assistant has already come to me and apologized, I told him to forget it. I have made a lot of mistakes in my career.”
Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles in two spells at Chelsea, said United were the better side.
“We were the best team on the pitch. If you say before the game that one point at Stamford Bridge is a good result, it is so difficult to win here but after the game with the way the game was it is an awful result for us and a phenomenal result for them.
“We were in the game, we controlled their triggers, (Eden) Hazard and Jorginho was well controlled.
“After we were 2-1 up we had possibilities to score the third goal, we were the best team, we were calm in control.
“I hope every referee does the same as Mike Dean and gives six minutes, I don’t know where they came from. We always tried to play, there was no time-wasting.”
The result means Chelsea go top of the table, at least temporarily, but United are still languishing in eighth spot, seven points off the pace.
Chelsea goalscorer Barkley hailed his team’s never-say-die attitude.
“My confidence has grown but our target was to win the game so it is disappointing,” he said.
“The manager told me to help the team win the game and try and get a result. We conceded a goal that we should have stopped but we came back.”