Asian nations to rule in KL on Kuwait vote in FIFA poll

LAUSANNE, Switzerland: World sport's highest court gave authority to 45 Asian football nations to decide if their colleagues from Kuwait can vote on Friday in a bitterly fought election for one of the game's most influential jobs.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport delivered its ruling late Thursday after being asked for an urgent decision by the Kuwait Football Association on its dispute with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The Kuwait FA wants full voting rights at the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but was being blocked by AFC leadership.

The AFC refuses to recognize Kuwait's new football leaders even though they were approved last month by world governing body FIFA.

The dispute is a battle in a wider war being fought to gain control of a seat representing Asia on the powerful FIFA executive committee - the body which chooses World Cup hosts.

"The question of the suspension of KFA and of its voting right .... shall be addressed by the AFC Congress (on Friday)," the court said in a statement.

The court ruled that the matter would be decided "under the supervision of a FIFA representative, with all AFC member associations present being able to express their view and give their vote."

Kuwait will not take part or vote in the debate which could be a test run for the most important and controversial item on the Congress agenda - election for the FIFA role.

Qatari businessman Mohamad Bin Hammam, president of the 46-member AFC, is being challenged for his FIFA seat by Bahrain's Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.

The two rival camps have waged aggressive campaigns in recent weeks, accusing each other of corruption and buying votes.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter stepped in last month to call for fair play in a fight that has exposed a dark side of football's internal politics.

Both Hammam and his fellow FIFA executive member Chung Mong-joon from South Korea, a backer of Sheik Salman, have been regarded as potential successors to 73-year-old Blatter who is expected to attend the Congress.

The 24 FIFA executive members will choose the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at a meeting in December 2010.

Both Qatar and South Korea have applied to host the 2022 finals. - AP

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