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SBD Global/November 15, 2013/International Football
FIFA Unable To Intervene In Case Of Footballer Stranded In Qatar
Published November 15, 2013
'LIVING A NIGHTMARE': In London, Owen Gibson reported Belounis "has written an impassioned plea" to former 2022 World Cup ambassadors Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola asking them to "intervene on his behalf." Under the kafala system that ties employees to their "sponsors," migrant workers "cannot leave the Gulf state unless their employer agrees." In the letter to Zidane and Guardiola, who were both active ambassadors for the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid, Belounis said he has been "living a nightmare" in recent months due to a system that is "slowly killing me." The intervention of the French embassy "has not been enough to persuade the club to grant Belounis an exit visa." He believed that he would be allowed to return home last weekend after signing a document giving up his claim to the unpaid wages, but he was "then asked to sign another document, which he believed could lead to him being charged with defamation and the imposition of a travel ban." He "refused, believing that could leave him confined to Qatar for as long as the case took to be heard, which could be years" (GUARDIAN, 11/14). Read Belounis' letter in full.