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Football: Kuwait to host Gulf Cup with participation of all teams

Sports Saturday 09/December/2017 15:37 PM
By: Times News Service
Football: Kuwait to host Gulf Cup with participation of all teams
Muscat: Thanks to FIFA’s decision to lift ban on Kuwait Football Association and Qatar’s subsequent 'initiative' to move the Gulf Cup, Kuwait will now be hosting the 23rd edition of the region’s premier football championship as scheduled from December 22.
According to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the Kuwait Football Association chief Sheikh Ahmed Al Yousef has officially announced his country’s hosting of the 23rd Gulf Cup from December 22 to January 5 with the participation of hosts Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen.
Al Yousef made the announcement on the state television on Friday night.
“At 8.20 pm (Friday evening), I am informed of the desire of His Highness the Emir (Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah) to organise the Gulf Cup with the participation of Saudi Arabia and all the teams through the Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq Al Ghanim,” the statement said.
The announcement comes after Saudi Arabia expressed their willingness to participate in the tournament if the event is organised in Kuwait, while Qatar expressed their willingness to give up the hosting rights.
As per the draw made earlier in the year, the teams are divided into two groups with hosts Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman placed in Group A and Qatar, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen placed in Group B.
The tournament is now scheduled to kick off at Jaber International Stadium in Kuwait City on December 22 with the match between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
FIFA chief lauds
Meanwhile, FIFA chief Gianni Infantino lauded Qatar association for their ‘honourable gesture’ to move the Gulf Cup to Kuwait.
In a statement, the FIFA boss said: “I am very happy and encouraged by the recent developments in the Gulf region. First of all, it is a great pleasure to welcome Kuwaiti football back into the international football community. During my visit to Kuwait earlier this week, I witnessed with my own eyes the delight of all Kuwaiti players and fans to be back – finally. It has been a long and tough period of suffering for them over the past two years.”
“The initiative to move the 2017 Gulf Cup from Qatar to Kuwait to celebrate this event is a strong and symbolic sign. In this respect, I would like to congratulate and thank the Qatari football authorities for their honourable gesture, which was not unexpected as it is in line with Qatar’s commitment as the host country of the 2022 FIFA World Cup that this Cup is indeed for the entire region,” he added.
“In this context, I would like to express my gratitude to the teams of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen for participating in this tournament. The solidarity and friendship shown by all illustrates once again the power of football to unite people across borders. The 2017 Gulf Cup will be a great celebration of football in the whole region and to have all eight teams participating in Kuwait sends a very powerful message to the world,” he said.
“To mark this special occasion, it will be a great honour for me to attend the opening games of the 2017 Gulf Cup in Kuwait on December 22 and 23. This tournament embraces the spirit of sportsmanship and is a great example of the values that FIFA and football strive to spread all around the world,” he concluded.