By DAN KARELL
Stranded French soccer player Zahir Belounis is coming home.
After a long ordeal that culminated with FIFPro visiting Qatar to lobby for his release, Belounis has received his exit visa and is expected to return to Paris with his family on Thursday, according to his brother Mahdi. Belounis has claimed that his club in Qatar, El Jaish, haven’t paid him since 2010, despite signing a contract through 2015.
Unfortunately for Belounis until now, he was unable to leave the country as Qatari rules state that a foreigner’s employer is in control of whether a person can receive an exit visa or not.
Belounis’ case has received plenty of media support in the last two months, and though his situation didn’t receive support from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, France President Francois Hollande visited the Gulf country to provide support for the 33-year-old Belounis. The situation has brought plenty of negative attention to Qatar, who were controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Here are some more stories to start your Wednesday:
VILLAS-BOAS FEELING THE HEAT FROM TOTTENHAM BOARD
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is feeling the wrath of the club’s board after a debilitating 6-0 defeat to Manchester City last Sunday.
Despite bringing in seven players this summer for upwards of £105 million, the club’s progress has been halted as the team has yet to find their form and gel together. Tottenham have scored just nine goals in 12 English Premier League games, and according to reports in England, Tottenham’s owner Joe Lewis is losing patience with the Portuguese manager.
Lewis is reportedly unhappy with the Tottenham losses to Man City, West Ham at home, Arsenal away, and the inability to bring the best out of the team’s new signings.
Though they are doing well in the Europa League, the London club currently sit in ninth place with 20 points, eight points behind leaders Arsenal. Even with the defeat at the Etihad Stadium, Tottenham only sit two points behind a coveted UEFA Champions League spot.
AFC COULD JOIN WITH OCEANIA FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
In a bid to improve their chances for future World Cup qualification, the Asian Football Confederation and their Oceanian counterparts have begun discussions to combine forces.
Both federations sent teams to the playoff round for the World Cup in Brazil next year, and both New Zealand and Jordan were smashed by Mexico and Uruguay, respectively, leaving just four places at the World Cup from the two federations together. Oceania won’t be represented at the tournament next summer due to them having to go through the playoffs instead of earning automatic qualification.
New Zealand are reportedly interested in following Australia’s lead in moving into the AFC to face stronger competition.
Real Madrid’s New Years celebrations will have to be cut short after they agreed to face Paris Saint-Germain in a friendly match in Doha, Qatar on January 2, with the club needing to travel to the Gulf nation on New Years day. (REPORT)
Manchester United’s plane to Germany was forced to abort their landing the first time around due to poor weather conditions, though they landed safely on the second attempt. (REPORT)
Even though he won’t be playing in Wednesday’s Champions League match against Galatasaray, upwards of 45,000 Real Madrid fans will wear Cristiano Ronaldo face masks to support the Portuguese star at the Estadio Bernabeu. (REPORT)
Bayern Munich were unable to train on Tuesday evening in Russia ahead of their match against CSKA Moscow because of heavy snowfall. (REPORT)
Currently unemployed, Guus Hiddink has reportedly reached out to the Dutch Football Federation to take over the Netherlands National Team after the 2014 World Cup. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Glad to see Belounis able to return home? Do you see Villas-Boas losing his job if Tottenham don’t improve their performances quickly? Do you feel New Zealand should move into the AFC for World Cup qualifying?
Share your thoughts below.