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KAFALA 'SLAVERY' SYSTEM: Why Footballers Shouldn't Attempt to Sign for a Club in Qatar




I was shocked myself when I read on CNN Sports about the Kafala system and how it slaves footballers in Qatar. Truly it beats my imaginations because ordinarily, I felt Qatar is a football friendly country. It has lavished money on European football so much.

The Qatar foundation sponsors the shirts of FC Barcelona.

Another Spanish team, Malaga, reached the quarter finals of this year's UEFA Champions' league largely because of the huge injection of Qatari funds.

And Qatar Investment Authority, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, bought Paris Saint Germaine (PSG), signing some of the game's greatest players. The wages for the likes of David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been lavish.

But playing in Qatar is a different ball game. And Zahir Belounis, the French-Algerian footballer who signed for first division club, Ei Jadish, became one of the victims of Kafala system.


 Despite he alleges holding a contract that lasts until 2015. He claim to have been frozen out, threatened, moved to other clubs against his will, gone unpaid salary for 23 months and barred from leaving the country - leaving him, his wife and two daughters trapped in Qatar.


The Kafala system which ties employees to a specific employer has according to Human Rights Watch and International Trade Union Confederations (ITUC), been open to systematic abuse and created a de facto form of slavery for more than a million migrant workers living within its borders.

The Kafala system, confiscation of Passports, illegal charging of exorbitant agent fees, the inability of victims to access the courts for redress have made life unbearable for migrant workers in Qatar.

"Qatar has an exit Visas system, so you cannot leave the country unless the sponsors say so. You have a system where players are trapped in the country and grossly abused - unpaid wages, Wages held in arrears... It keeps workers credibly vulnerable. Migrants are basically slaves in this country, The legal system doesn't work, contracts are torn up at a whim..." said Belounis.

One International labor organization call FIFA to strip Qatar of the 2022 world cup hosting right, over the treatment of Migrant workers.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of ITUC said, "I am shocked to see this exploitations in football. A country that doesn't respect human beings does not have the right to orgqanize the best competition in the world.

Nicholas Megeehan of human rights watch said, "Qatar has been quite successful at growing off a progressive image when, in fact, the labor system is so exploitative."

"Its royal family, led by Emir Hammed bin Khalifa Al Than, is one of the richest in the world. Thanks to the discovery and explorations of the largest natural gas field on earth. The country is always presenting a glowing portrait of itself to the rest of the world.

And you can't imagine how FIFA awarded the right to host 2022 World Cup finals to such a tiny Emirate of less two million people and barely 300, 000 citizens. Found next to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

As you should expect, the Qatari government has intimated that it is prepared to scrap the Kafala system of sponsorship. "The sponsorship system will be replaced with a contract signed by two parties." said Hussain Al Mulla, undersecretary for the ministry of Labor. Well, while the repeal of the system remain in the pipeline, I advise footballers to better stay away from Qatar.

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