Trapped French footballer asks for help to leave Qatar

Calls on former World Cup 2022 ambassadors Zidane and Guardiola

15 November, 19:50

    (ANSAmed) - DOHA, NOVEMBER 15 - The French footballer Zahir Belounis has asked Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola to help him leave Qatar, where he has been forced to remain for months without a salary alongside his wife and daughters. Belounis wrote a letter to Zidane and Guardiola, former ambassadors for the 2022 World Cup scheduled to take place in Qatar, calling on them to help him leave the emirate where he has been barred from leaving since 2012, when he spoke out against the Qatar team Al-Jaish for two years of non-payment of wages. ''I know that you served as ambassadors for Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid,'' said Belounis in his open letter. ''You did this with good intentions but the reality is that if Qatar does not scrap its 'exit visa' system, then there will be hundreds, maybe thousands, of people trapped here.'' The 'kafala' system, which forbids foreign workers from leaving the country without authorization from their Qatari employer, is in force in Qatar. French embassy efforts in Doha have proven unsuccessful, while FIFA has said it cannot help Belounis, since the footballer lodged a complaint with a Qatar court rather than referring the matter to its dispute resolution chamber. Belounis thus decided to request the help of two well-known former colleagues, Real Madrid captain Zidane and Bayern Monaco coach Guardiola.

    ''People are being kept far from their countries because of the exit visa system. This system should not exist. We need people like you, who love sport and its (good) image, to make our voices heard,'' he wrote. Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have spoken out against the "kafala" system. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has also said that 4,000 foreign workers may die in Qatar before 2022 due to serious violations of their rights.


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