Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call to return home

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Google rivals Amazon with delivery drone tests

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000

Read more

DEBATE

US-Africa summit: Obama unveils $33 billion US investment plan for Africa

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky Tweets

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in an explosive atmosphere

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

Middle east

French footballer trapped in Qatar finally gets exit visa

© Amnesty International

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-27

French footballer Zahir Belounis, trapped in Qatar for 17 months after his club refused him an exit visa because of an ongoing salary dispute, heard Wednesday that he will finally be allowed to return to France.

A French footballer stuck in Qatar for 17 months following a pay dispute with his club has finally been allowed to leave the Gulf state in a case that has highlighted Qatar’s controversial employment laws.

French-Algerian player Zahir Belounis, 33, had been refused an exit visa since June 2012, after he filed a complaint against the Al-Jaish club for failing to pay his salary.

The club insisted he would not be granted the visa unless he dropped the case.

But on Wednesday Belounis heard that his nightmare was over and he would be coming home.

His case was also taken up by the professional footballers union FIFPro, which was due to start a four-day visit to Qatar on Thursday for talks with the Qatari football authorities and the organisers of the 2022 World Cup.

The association said it would "not sit idly by as the rights of the players are being abused".

“The Qatari authorities were doing immense damage to their image by holding him there,” Belounis' brother Mahdi told reporters. “The pressure from the FIFPro was the straw that broke the camel’s back, they realised they had to close the door of this case.”

Belounis' case has highlighted once again Qatar’s “kalafa” (sponsorship) system which ties workers’ residency permits to their employers, whose consent is required before an exit visa can be granted.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have denounced the kafala system – which is only used by Qatar and Saudi Arabia – as abusive.

“This system is slowly killing me and many other people risk suffering in the same way,” Belounis wrote in a desperate open letter to 2022 World Cup ambassadors Zinedine Zidane and Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola, published in the Guardian newspaper on November 14.

“I haven't seen my family in France since June 2012 because my employer refuses to give me the exit visa needed to leave the country. I am not alone in this predicament. Many workers who are to build the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup risk finding themselves in the same situation as me.”

“If Qatar does not scrap its 'exit visa' system, then there will be hundreds, maybe thousands, of people trapped here,” he said.

Date created : 2013-11-27

  • Sport

    Blatter says Europe 'unfair' to attack Qatar World Cup

    Read more

  • QATAR

    Brother of French footballer stuck in Qatar speaks out

    Read more

  • QATAR

    Amnesty slams Qatar migrant worker exploitation

    Read more

COMMENT(S)