Sport Soccer

Saturday 21 April 2018

Belounis' Qatar nightmare finally over

The Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
The Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Sam Wallace

French footballer Zahir Belounis, who was prevented from leaving Qatar, will have an emotional reunion with his wider family this evening at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport when he finally returns to the country after a bitter battle over his exit visa.

Belounis' plight became an international cause that threatened to damage Qatar's attempts to burnish their international reputation ahead of the 2022 World Cup finals.

The Gulf state finally relented yesterday and granted the player an exit visa after decisive pressure was brought to bear by FifPro, the international footballers' union.

Belounis (33) had been told he could not leave the country unless he dropped a legal action begun in February against his former club El Jaish over what was then 18 months' unpaid wages.

Campaigners from the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), who have supported Belounis, said that his legal case will continue even after he arrives back in Paris tonight. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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