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Middle east

Brother of French footballer stuck in Qatar speaks out

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-27

The brother of French footballer Zahir Belounis (pictured), currently trapped in Qatar as a result of the country’s controversial labour laws, has spoken exclusively to FRANCE 24 about the player's plight.

The brother of Zahir Belounis, the French footballer currently stuck in Qatar as a result of the country's controversial labour laws, has told FRANCE 24 he remains hopeful stars Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola may intervene to help the player with his plight.

Belounis says his club is no longer paying his salary, and that as a result of his legal case to reclaim up to two years wages from top-flight side Al-Jaish, his employer is refusing to give him the exit visa he needs to leave the country under Qatari law.

The 33-year-old recently addressed an open letter to French World Cup winner Zidane and former Barcelona manager Guardiola, both ambassadors for the Qatari 2022 World Cup bid, in a bid to help his cause.

“We really do hope something will be done,” said Zahir’s brother Mahdi. “I hope Zidane will hear us because this letter was really moving, it was really a tough letter for us, for my family, for my mother.”

Belounis’ cry for help comes amid allegations of appalling working conditions for migrant workers brought in to build the stadiums that will be used for the 2022 World Cup.

The International Trade Union Congress has claimed that up to 4,000 could die before the tournament begins, while an investigation by The Guardian reported that dozens of immigrant Nepalese workers had lost their lives in recent months.

The workers, like Belounis, are not free to leave the country until their employers give consent under the controversial Kafala system.

The Qatar FA disputes Belounis' side of the story, asserting that the Frenchman is still being paid every month.

You can follow Mahdi on Twitter @mahdibelounis.

Date created : 2013-11-19

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