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French Algerian football player Zahir Belounis ponders a question during a press conference in Paris, France, Dec 3.(AP)
Belounis to sue ex-Qatari clubs ‘Big fight to be heard’

PARIS, Dec 3, (AP): Zahir Belounis plans to sue his two former Qatari clubs for fraud, extortion of money and inhuman working conditions. The French-Algerian football player and his lawyer, Frank Berton, said at a press conference on Tuesday they intend to file lawsuits against the Military Sport Association president Gamaan Al-Hamad and Al-Jaish president Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani. “The lawsuits will be filed with the Paris prosecutor’s office,” Berton said. “We hope that the Paris prosecutor will open an investigation.”


Belounis played for the Military Sport Association from 2007 to 2010 before joining Al-Jaish. His case has helped bring to international notice the labor laws in Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup. Under Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system, workers need permission from their employers to leave the country.
“A few years ago, I would have never thought that I could be the prisoner of a sponsor,” Belounis said. “They destroy you if things turn bad. It’s a big fight to be heard and leave the country because the sponsor does whatever he wants.”
Belounis returned to France only last week after he was denied an exit visa for months because of a legal dispute over unpaid wages. Belounis said he was last paid in June 2011. He hired a lawyer in October 2012 to have his club pay his wages, but that initiative gave no result, so he pursued legal action in February.
Stranded in Qatar with his wife and their two daughters, Belounis sank into depression and contemplated suicide.


His demand for an exit visa was first denied in February. Belounis said he was allowed to leave the country only because he accepted signing a letter of dismissal backdated to February that deprived him of his wages from that month to the end of his contract in June 2015. Qatari officials refused to give him that document but some French diplomats witnessed the signing, Belounis said.
France President Francois Hollande traveled to the Persian Gulf to meet Belounis in June, but the player received no support from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who visited Qatar last month.
“I’m angry with all the people who could have helped me and who looked at this case from afar,” Belounis said.
“When Blatter arrived in Qatar, I was telling myself that he could meet me at least. But no, there are more important matters than Zahir Belounis. That collateral damage means nothing,” Belounis said.
“Of course, I’m angry. Especially since he met people who can get me out of the country within 24 hours. And he did nothing.” FIFA said it was not involved in the case because Belounis did not pursue his claim through its judicial body, the dispute resolution chamber.

Also:
FRANKFURT, Germany:
A German second-division football club has terminated a short-lived sponsorship contract with the Saudi Arabian national airline Saudia following protests from Jewish and other local groups.
The deal with FSV Frankfurt was revealed last week and immediately came under fire because of a New York Post report that Saudia refuses to fly Israeli citizens.
FSV Frankfurt said Monday it had asked Saudia for clarification but had been told to contact the Saudi embassy in Berlin, “upon which both sides agreed to terminate the contract by mutual agreement” immediately. The club did not disclose the value of the sponsorship deal, which had been negotiated by a management agency.



  

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