If anyone needed another reason to move the World Cup out of Qatar, the story of French footballer Zahir Belounis, who is trapped in Qatar, unable to get his exit Visa from the authorities due to his lawsuit against former club El Jaish, which has forced him to sell all of his belonging and according to journalist James Masters, contemplate suicide.
The 33-year old striker provides an ugly look at the world of foreigners in Qatar, showing that the stories of Nepalese workers being held against their will in the country don’t just confine themselves to blue-collar narratives.
Foreigners in Qatar have their rights acquired by a Qatari national who takes responsibility for them. In Belounis’ case it was the football club of El Jaish, but after almost two years of not being paid by the team, he decided to file a lawsuit against them. FIFA love to fight the good fight when it suits them, but no powerful football organization has been able to aid Belounis, not to mention showing an interest in helping him.
According to Masters, who has been following the story and talking to Belounis, the 33-year old is on the verge of going over the edge. He has had to sell all his belongings in order to survive. He cannot leave the country until he drops his lawsuit against the Qatari club, and although he has already been told almost a month ago he’ll be able to leave the country, he’s still stuck in there, getting more and more desperate according to Masters.
The French government has been involved in way but hasn’t been able to help, and it seems that a recent conversation between Masters and Belounis was about the journalist trying to convince Belounis not to give up and not take his own life, as he’s “home” has been reduced to sleeping on a mattress with his wife, whiel his children don’t understand what is happening.
Maybe when this story becomes a global media issue, FIFA will intervene, in yet another example of why giving this nation the World Cup was a corrupt and simply foolish decision.