FIFA stops Gerrard, Pirlo from playing game in banned Kuwait

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ZURICH (AP) — Steven Gerrard, Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez have been stopped from playing in a friendly in Kuwait because of the Gulf nation's ban from international soccer.

Kuwait was suspended by FIFA in October because of government interference, a case which threatens the country's place in World Cup qualifying.

The ban from international competitions extends to active players registered with clubs from taking part in the Football Champions Tour friendly in Kuwait on Friday against a local all-star team.

Organizers said Pirlo and Gerrard, who play in Major League Soccer, as well as Qatar-based Xavi are no longer able to participate.

"Such principle is, of course, also to be followed at all sporting levels involving football in the territory of the state of Kuwait," FIFA acting secretary general Markus Kattner wrote to member associations last week.

On Tuesday, the FIFA disciplinary committee will consider sanctions for Kuwait for failing to fulfill a World Cup qualifier against Myanmar last month after it was banned. The ruling is not expected this week.

The International Olympic Committee has also suspended Kuwait, risking its athletes' chances of qualifying and competing at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kuwait's top sports official, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah — a FIFA executive committee member and head of the ANOC group of national Olympic bodies — has been unable to resolve the dispute.

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