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.
- 1Migrant killed near Tunnel amid mass attempt to cross channel
- 2Man killed as 1,500 migrants try to enter Channel Tunnel in Calais
- 3Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is confirmed dead
- 4Rome airport fully operational after forest fire affects flights
- 5Turkey keeps up pressure on PKK with more airstrikes
- 1Berlusconi linked with a shock return to government – in Russia!
- 2French actor Gérard Depardieu ‘a threat to Ukraine national security’
- 3Nasa announces the discovery of an earth-like planet
- 4Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston’s daughter, dies
- 5Coach has its roof sheared off in low tunnel near Lille
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Russia unveils ‘straight’ flag, internet responds
- 3Seven reasons why Yanis Varoufakis is now a political legend
- 4Greek crisis: ‘Agreement reached’ after marathon talks
- 5Nasa announces the discovery of an earth-like planet
- 6[LIVE UPDATES] Greek debt deadline looms
- 7Is Saudi Arabia outlawing rainbows for being gay?
- 8Pluto: New Horizons space probe provides closest-ever pictures
- 9French actor Gérard Depardieu ‘a threat to Ukraine national security’
- 10Latest News Bulletin
- 11International news | euronews, latest international news
- 12International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 13BREAKING: Formal nuclear deal reached with Iran, says diplomat
- 14Greece votes ‘No’ in overwhelming rejection of bailout proposals
- 15Berlusconi linked with a shock return to government – in Russia!
- 16At least 10 dead in explosion in Turkish town close to border with Syria
- 17Greece clinches deal with eurogroup after marathon talks
- 18‘Imposed’ bailout deal must be implemented, says Greek PM
- 19Istanbul Gay pride quashed by riot police, rubber bullets and water cannon
- 20Israel angry as Iran and West talk up nuclear deal
We’ve rescued 5,500 migrants from sea in three months, says charity
Russian pensioner charged with gruesome murders suspected of killing 10
Rome airport fully operational after forest fire affects flights
Cecil the Lion: shining a spotlight on trophy hunting
Prince George bags £18,000 birthday present
Wires > News
- 22:54 CET Too early to say if debris in Reunion is from MH370 flight – police
- 21:24 CET Fabius, visiting Tehran, invites Rouhani to France
- 21:05 CET U.S. democratic presidential hopeful Clinton to call for lifting…
- 20:54 CET Afghanistan says Taliban leader dead, urges peace talks
- 20:14 CET U.S., allies target Islamic State in Syria, Iraq with 14 air…
- 20:04 CET Taliban leader, who Afghanistan says is dead, a pious enigma
- 20:00 CET Syrian PM says power crisis worsens as militants target plants
- 19:52 CET Zimbabwean charged over killing of Cecil the lion