A French footballer locked in a pay dispute with his former club in Qatar has spoken of his desperation over its refusal to grant him an exit visa and return home.
33-year-old Zahir Belounis has been stuck in the Gulf emirate with his wife and two young daughters after he took legal action against top flight side El-Jaish, claiming up to two years in unpaid wages.
“I don’t think I can take it anymore,” Belounis told Euronews by phone from Doha on Thursday morning. “I’m desperate. I’m not a criminal. I’ve done nothing wrong. Please help me.”
The footballer, who has also played in France, Switzerland and Malaysia, has been denied permission to leave Qatar unless he halts his legal challenge.
“He’s sold everything. He doesn’t even have a bed,” said Zahir’s brother Mahdi in a telephone interview. “He sold his TV. His kids’ beds. Even their toys. Everything he had. Even his car.”
“If you drop your claim, you have to sign a piece of paper that your club doesn’t owe you anything,” he added. “But you have no hope of getting anything after that.”
Calls made by Euronews to El Jaish and the Qatar Football Association seeking comment went unanswered.
FIFPro, the Netherlands-based international union for footballers, on Wednesday called on FIFA president Sepp Blatter to “unite the international football family and finally end the impasse.” But football’s world governing body said it is powerless to help Belounis.
“FIFA is unable to intervene in this matter given that Mr Belounis chose the option of contacting an ordinary court in Qatar instead of the second option available to refer to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC),” FIFA said in a statement. “FIFA has to date received no contractual claim from Zahir Belounis against his Qatari club as well as any accompanying documentation to support his case.”
FIFPro said Belounis joined Qatari side El-Jaish in 2007. He later extended his contract until June 2015 but from November 2011 the club stopped paying his salary It describes the Frenchman’s case as a “basic violation of human rights.”
French President François Hollande raised Belounis’ case when he visited Qatar in June, but the Elyseé‘s intervention failed to break the deadlock.
Belounis says he is a victim of Qatar’s “kafala” sponsorship system, which prevents workers from leaving the country without the written permission from their employers.
Qatar’s labour laws have been under the spotlight since the country was granted the right to host the 2022 World Cup ahead of bids from Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea. Authorities there have been accused of violating the rights of foreign workers, who are building the new stadiums and transport links for the tournament.
Francois Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, wrapped up an eight-day investigation into working conditions in Qatar on Sunday.
“Many migrants face human rights violations in the workplace,” he was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. “Some are not paid their wages, or are paid less than agreed,” AFP quoted him as saying. “I am also concerned about the level of accidents in construction sites, and hazardous working conditions resulting in injury or death.
Crépeau, echoing calls made by Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation, also urged Qatar to scrap the kafala system.
- 1Lavrov hits Turkey with more penalties, doubts commitment to war on “secret allies” ISIL
- 2Belgian police release new details about on-the-run fifth Paris suspect
- 3Still no power in Crimea as protesters block repairs to pylons
- 4Russian marine Alexander Pozynich buried
- 5Turkey dismisses Russia’s economic threats over downing of fighter jet
- 1Warning or no warning – tension grows between Russia and Turkey over downed jet
- 2Russian co-pilot says his plane downed “without warning” by Turks
- 3Hollande adds Italy to his coalition before heading to Moscow
- 4Media war Turkish and Russian press react to downed fighter
- 5Germany will ‘do more’ to fight ISIL, says Merkel
- 1At least 22 people killed as Mali hotel siege ends
- 2Fate of pilots of downed Russian jet unclear
- 3Russia confirms Turks have shot down one of its planes on Syrian border
- 4Five questions on Russia’s air strikes in Syria
- 5Hasna Aitboulahcen did not detonate a suicide vest during the St. Denis shoot out
- 1Coordinated terror attacks leave dozens dead in Paris
- 2euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 31000-year-old Bible found in Turkey
- 4Bomb and several shootings in central Paris – reports of fatalities and injuries
- 5International news | euronews, latest international news
- 6world Weather | euronews: world ten day weather forecast
- 7Police hunting Paris attacks mastermind battle with suspects in heart of Paris
- 8European Union News | euronews: latest breaking news and headlines about European Union
- 9latest sci-tech news : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 10New temporary spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood appointed
- 11Humans consume more than planet can produce on ‘Earth Overshoot Day’
- 12Thousands in Bucharest blame corruption for Friday’s nightclub blaze
- 13‘Anonymous’ hackers’ group declares ‘war’ on ISIL
- 14‘Maxed-out:’ Jordan’s King Abdullah II’s frank warning over Syria crisis
- 15International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 16Business news and finance news | euronews: international economic and finance news
- 17Special Reports : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 18Iraq: deadly car bombs kill more than 60 in Baghdad
- 19Middle East - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 20No Comment | euronews: international news images without commentary
Marathon great Radcliffe cleared of all doping charges
Black Friday in America: crowds in stores thin, but big at computers
French Foreign Minister foresees Syrian forces in the fight against ISIL
What is the EU’s drive for a circular economy all about?
And also… #1in5Muslims; not quite terrorism; Russia’s unlikely friendship
Wires > News
- 23:11 CET Sweden suspends flights to northern Iraq over security concerns
- 22:33 CET Insight – Voice of Paris attacks; Did he have bigger role?
- 21:53 CET Turkey’s Erdogan warns Russia not to ‘play with fire’
- 21:51 CET Pope holds private meeting with president of warring South Sudan
- 21:08 CET U.N. chief condemns deadly attack in disputed Abyei region
- 21:06 CET Saudis failed to investigate air strikes on Yemen civilians -…
- 19:58 CET Lebanon PM urges presidential vote after new push to find candidate
- 19:47 CET U.S.‘s Biden, Italy’s Renzi discuss fight against Islamic State -…