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Sunday, May 9, 2021

French footballer remains in limbo as he awaits exit permit

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Zahir Bel

Video still

With reporting from Riham Sheble

Despite high hopes that he would be home in France by now, 33-year-old Zahir Belounis is still in Qatar, and getting desperate.

The footballer, who came here under a five-year contract with Al Jaish SC, told Doha News this morning that he had a meeting with his sponsor and Qatari and French embassy officials yesterday. But the talks did not end up yielding an exit permit.

Belounis has not been allowed to leave the country since February, after he filed a lawsuit against his sponsor for 18 months worth of unpaid wages. He has previously been told that he would not be granted an exit permit until he drops his lawsuit.

‘We need to leave’

Yesterday, Belounis said he was asked to sign an agreement terminating his contract with Al Jaish, but added that he was not given any guarantees that an exit permit would be forthcoming.

Speaking to Doha News this morning, Belounis, who lives with his wife and children, said he had already started selling his furniture in preparation for leaving Qatar. He continued:

“By Thursday, we will be out on the street, literally homeless. And right now this is my worst fear. I cannot afford to go with my family to a hotel. My daughter was really confused to see the furniture going while I was not able to give her a definite answer as to when we will be traveling.

Yes, the French embassy has extended me a huge helping hand and yes, the government seems keen on sorting this mess out, but the fact remains that I still do not have an exit visa to leave Qatar. For my family and me, this is what matters. We need to leave back to our country before we find ourselves on the street.”

Over the past several months, human rights groups have been holding up Belounis as yet another victim of Qatar’s kafala system, which does not allow employees to leave the country without their sponsor’s permission.

Al Jaish has not publicly commented on this case in recent months, and it is unclear whether Belounis would be paid his back wages if he leaves.

Another meeting with the athlete and officials is scheduled this week.

Thoughts?

22 COMMENTS

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Desert Witch
Desert Witch
7 years ago

I don’t understand. Why hold in to his guy if you don’t want him in your employment? Why ruin his life and his career? And why oh why if the Q gov are involved can’t they overrule the exit ban?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

I’m wonder the same about the government; why indeed don’t they overrule in this case. The best I can think of, and it’s not a good one, is that they want this case to get bad so as to use it to justify to the local population the removing of or at least loosening of the sponsorship system. The only other explication is sheer incompetence.

Annon
Annon
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Or they don’t want him to go back home to France & tell the world the TRUTH about what’s happening here. What’s the bet that this ”agreement” terminating his contract he is being asked to sign also states that he wasn’t mistreated,was paid all his wages & basically has no claims whatsoever against the club? That way even if he does go back & speak to the media,this signed ”agreement” can be used to counter any claims he has. There was no shortage of bad press courtesy of the last guy who somehow managed to leave Qatar without signing a similar ”agreement”. (Another French-Arab footballer,don’t remember his name.)

Susan
Susan
7 years ago
Reply to  Annon

That’s a solid bet. Happened to me when I left my first (Qatari) employer here years ago. To get my NOC, I had to sign a form where I declined all end of service gratuities and other monies owed to me and stated I had no further claims of any kind against the company. It was completely unfair and cost me a significant chunk of change, but I did it — just to get out from under their thumb so I could go work for another company run and managed by westerners.
My previous Qatari bosses were not good leaders; they were petty and punitive, managing the staff by fear instead of behaving in a manner that instilled loyalty and respect. No amount of money is worth going back to that crap again.

disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

These cases can go on for far far longer than just two years. For me, the problem is that nothing compells the court to intervene, there is no law requiring a speedy trial, etc. People don’t want to get their hands dirty and upset this person or that person. As long as the kafala system exists as is, with no protections for the employee against employer, this will go on.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

Whether there is merit or not in his case this is not justice, just because he has launched a legal case against you, you keep him prisoner in Qatar. That is shocking in its viciousness and the act of a coward.
No wonder it is easy for human rights activists to bash Qatar, Qatar does it to themselves.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

This country of 2 million is only what, 20% Qatari at best? How tight do you think the circles of families lie here? There’s no doubt that someone in the government is pretty tight with the owners of the football club. The Exec Dir of Al Jaish and 2 Gov’t Ministers have the same last name. Coincidence? Maybe?

Biby Chacko
Biby Chacko
7 years ago

why do people behave in such a way..and hurt the feeling of others…..many people do not know how to respect other fellow human beings….when they face the same situations themselves in their life…they will learn then….

Ali
Ali
7 years ago
Reply to  Biby Chacko

Yeah my blood boils when I hear stories like this. What you sow, so shall you reap.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago

how predictable! Such a lack of human empathy…..but in order to have empathy you have to be in other people’s shoes and it does not happen much here.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

Hard to see with that big silver spoon in their mouth.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

exactly!

optimisticynicl
optimisticynicl
7 years ago

It is a strange comment on life in Qatar that the worst punishment that the government metes out is to force someone to stay.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

LOL

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

This is so ridiculous; there is no point to the labor law if the employer is allowed to do this just because their employee has sued them. In fact, I believe in such cases the sponsorship must be switched to an independent government entity as avoid such abuse of a system that’s already broken and is in need of serious reforming.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

It basically has. The government entity is prohibiting him from leaving by not issuing an exit permit.

Does Qatar not get it? The WC awarding has been totally tainted by accusations of bribery to the highest levels of FIFA. And I can’t believe anyone would totally disbelieve them. Rules have been changed, or are going to change in the future, to accommodate their awarding in ’22. The plight of the laborers has been front page news all over the world. And now they hold a French citizen, who happens to be a good footballer, hostage? Are they rubbing it in everyone’s face? Are they that brazen? This is not Qatar bashing but common sense. If dad gives you a new car you don’t try to run him over with it.

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Not to mention he has lost years that would be the twighlight ones in his career.He may not have many/any playing options left due to age and inactivity.That is sad.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Perhaps your questions would be better addressed to the government entity responsible for whatever it is you think they are responsible for in this case. You’re not even sure I’m Qatari, so kindly, find someone else to “gift” with your questions.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

They were rhetorical questions and not pointed at you.

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Maybe he should get a medal for bravery for sueing,just saying.

sadam
sadam
7 years ago

Qatar has made an astounding success making a good name for itself for the upcoming 2o22 world cup.

ANIT R N
ANIT R N
7 years ago

Here Sponsors never cares about others….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNJL6nfu__Q

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