Sport clubs to become private companies, footballers full-time employees

A milestone decision by the Ministry of Commerce last month is set to seal the professional status of footballers in the country. The new decision allows owners of sports clubs in Kuwait to obtain full commercial rights of these institutions.

The professional sports law will target domestic football – the sport having additionally been added to the Gulf Cooperation Council bloc’s classification of economic activities. It comes as a precondition by Asian and global football’s governing bodies, the AFC and FIFA, for the participation of Kuwaiti clubs in regional and international association competitions.

For the first time, the decision will treat Kuwaiti footballers as company employees, who are totally committed to their craft. Deputy Sports Director at the Public Authority for Sports, Sager Al-Mulla said the step will also help organize the club-to-club transfer of players, deeming it “important, crucial and necessary” to the development and growth of the sport in Kuwait.

Alongside ownership of clubs by Kuwaiti nationals, the move will also be open to foreign investors, as long as the necessary trade approvals are obtained from relevant authorities. Domestic clubs such as Al-Kuwait, Al-Nasr and Al-Salmiya have already applied for commercial licenses ahead of the regulations, currently being revised by sports authorities and the parliament. These clubs will now be included in the 14-club law, which includes Al-Arabi, Al-Jahra, Kazma, Khaitan, Al-Qurain, Al-Sahel, Al-Shabab, Al-Tadhamon, Al-Yarmouk, Qadsia and Sulaibikhat.

Al-Kuwait Sports Club board secretary Waleed Al-Rashed said the major motive behind the club’s private ownership bid is to be allowed to compete in the AFC Champions League. “Through these steps, the club hopes to raise the level of Kuwaiti football and offer full professional status to its players, who will be fully dedicated to the business and will receive full rights and benefits,” he said. Speaking of other advantages, he added that clubs will also boost their revenue from owning the exclusive broadcasting rights of their fixtures, allowing them to be financially self-sufficient. Rashed urged fellow clubs to follow suit due to the impetus this would give to developing the sport and its professionals.