Wages-row French footballer to sue Qatar royal

Zahir Belounis was unable to leave Gulf state for 18 months amid pay dispute with club
French player Zahir Belounis.
By Daniel Shane
Wed 04 Dec 2013 11:16 AM

A French footballer who spent close to 18 months trapped in Qatar after being refused an exit visa will sue the brother of the Gulf state’s ruler, his lawyer told Agence France Presse.

Zahir Belounis was unable to leave the FIFA World Cup 2022 host nation amid a wage dispute with his club Al Jaish. Under Qatar’s sponsorship system, known as Kafala, an employee’s residency status is tied to their employer, which can prevent them from leaving the country.

Belounis finally exited the country last week and his lawyer said he now plans to sue Al Jaish chairman Sheikh Joaan Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Thani, who is the brother of the emir of Qatar.

In order to leave Qatar, Belounis said he was made to sign a letter dated February foregoing his contract, that was due to run to June 2015, and waiving his right to $200,000 in wages.

Lawyer Frank Berton said that Belounis would file a suit in Paris over allegations of fraud, inhuman working conditions and extortion.

Thirty-three-year old Belounis will also file a case against the president of Qatar’s Military Sport Association, Gamaan Al Hamad, AFP reported.

Belounis originally moved to Qatar in 2007 when he signed for Al Jaish, when he was granted Qatari citizenship.

He fell into dispute with the club last year when they allegedly stopped paying his salary, leading Belounis to launch legal action.

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