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Frenchman Belounis back home from Qatar

Belounis, has been stranded in Qatar and was denied an exit visa unless he agrees to drop a legal case against his former club, al-Jaish

Published: Updated:

Zahir Belounis, the French player who said he had been prevented from leaving Qatar, was greeted by his family when he arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday.

Belounis, who joined Qatar side al-Jaish in 2007, said he had been stranded in the country for 17 months after failing to settle a financial dispute with the club.

An exit visa is needed to leave the Gulf state and the footballer only received the document on Wednesday, his brother Mahdi told Reuters.

Zahir, who had been in Qatar with his wife and two daughters, was claiming almost two years of unpaid wages.

“I am proud to be French; it is good to be home. I have nothing else to say,” said Belounis who embraced his mother as he arrived at the airport.

He told reporters he had not given up on his unpaid wages.

“The case is in a court of justice, I have screamed so loudly for months,” added Belounis. “Some people hurt me and they are going to pay for it dearly.”

Belounis was also greeted by a media scrum and a delegation from FIFPro, the world players’ union.

FIFPro said the footballer extended his contract with al-Jaish until June 2015 but from November 2011 the club stopped paying his wages.

The club, it added, then put him under pressure to terminate his contract and sign a document confirming he was owed nothing.

Belounis refused; concerned his signature would invalidate any claim.

The plight of the 33-year-old was another controversy dogging 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar following an outcry over the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf state’s construction industry.