ZURICH: World football federation FIFA has said it cannot help Zahir Belounis, the French-Algerian footballer under effective house arrest in Qatar, because he took up his complaint with a civil and not a sports court writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Theo Van Seggelen, secretary-general of the international players’ union FIFPro, has written to FIFA president Sepp Blatter asking for his assistance in resolving the impasse.

Belounis has been stranded in the FIFA World Cup 2022 host nation, together with his wife and two daughters, after being denied an exit visa until he agrees to drop legal proceedings against his former club, Al-Jaish.

The 33-year-old claims he has not been paid for almost two years. The refusal of the authorities to grant him a visa has been compared with the passport-retention system applied to immigrant construction workers under the highly-criticised kafala system.


According to a statement from FIFA, the player is responsible in part for his own plight in not having following the international federation’s own rules.

The statement said: “FIFA fully respects basic human rights and also requests that its member associations and the hosts of its events fully respect them. FIFA was actually made aware of Zahir Belounis’s predicament through the civil authorities in his home town.

“FIFA is unable to intervene in this matter given that Mr Belounis chose the option of contacting an ordinary court in Qatar instead of the second option available to refer to the FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC),  of which FIFPro secretary-general Theo Van Seggelen is a member.

“Furthermore, we would like to point out that FIFA has to date received no contractual claim from Zahir Belounis against his Qatari club as well as any accompanying documentation to support his case.”

Bellounis has appealed for Qatar’s World Cup bid ambassadors Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola to come to his aid.