Kuwait’s government is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah, one of the most powerful men in sport, over the Gulf state’s isolation from international sport.

The sheikh, a member of the FIFA executive committee, a top International Olympic Committee member and head of Asia’s Olympic body, is one of a number of Kuwaiti officials targeted in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

The suit accuses Sheikh Ahmad, who also faces a separate six-month jail term, his brother Sheikh Talal Fahad al-Sabah and 13 other officials of deliberately causing the suspension of Kuwait from international sport.

FIFA and the IOC suspended Kuwait in October over laws that allow government interference in sports. Sixteen other international federations have also blacklisted Kuwait, which risks missing out on taking part in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

The government is demanding temporary damages of $16,500 (15,200 euros), which if granted by a court will allow authorities to seek greater damages of $1.3 billion, according to Al-Rai newspaper.

The government says in the lawsuit that it has spent more than $1.3 billion on local sports in the past five years.

The Kuwaiti government has repeatedly said the country’s laws are in line with international sportscharters.

It is the third time since 2007 that FIFA and the IOC have suspended Kuwait for alleged government interference.

If the suspension remains, it will prevent Kuwait from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Sheikh Ahmad is fighting an appeal against a six-month jail term for insulting the judiciary.

Sheikh Ahmad and his brother are nephews of Kuwait’s ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

In a separate development, FIFA sanctioned Kuwait over its unplayed Asian Zone Group G World Cup 2018 qualifier against Myanmar scheduled for November 17 last year.

World football’s disciplinary committee fined Kuwait 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000, 9,140 euros) and declared the match should be forfeited.

A FIFA statement explained: “The decision was reached after a thorough analysis of all relevant information pertaining to the case, in particular the fact that the KFA has been suspended since 16 October 2015.” – Agence France-Presse

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