Qatar finally agrees to let Zahir Belounis leave

Zahir Belounis, the footballer “trapped” in Qatar for two years because his club would not permit his departure, is now able to go home, his brother says.

Zahir Belounis, who has been in dispute with his club El-Jaish over unpaid wages, says he has been held against his will because of Qatari labour laws.

A delegation from global players’ union FIFPro was due to meet Qatari authorities and the player on Thursday.

But his brother Mahdi Belounis said on Wednesday: “Zahir has his exit visa.”

Mahdi Belounis, who has been promoting his brother’s case and calling for him to be allowed to leave the Gulf state, added on Twitter:  “Zahir will finally be in Paris tomorrow.”

Zahir Belounis said his club would not grant his ‘exit visa’ because of a dispute over wages, even when he offered to drop his claim for unpaid backpay.

Earlier this month he wrote to 2022 World Cup ambassadors Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola to publicise his plight.

The treatment of migrant workers helping to build the infrastructure for the 2022 finals has been widely criticised in recent months. FIFA have pledged to act, and as a result of pressure brought by the international trade union movement,  the Qatari authorities have vowed to improve conditions.