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.
stadium hosting the WC opener in Brazil had a section collapse today:
Not good!!! That is the stadium that the US is planning on playing a friendly at in late January (less than 2 mo.!) <– not happening!
From what I read, it might have been a crane falling first. Which is more comforting than random parts of the building collapsing.
yeah it is absolutely a result of the crane crashing.
A sensible move for the Oceanian federation. The existing situation is the equivalent of having the Caribbean portion of CONCACAF as a separate federation.
Agreed, and probably with worse teams. I’ll take Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica over New Zealand any day.
They should grant one wc “charity” spot to a playoff winner of Oceania/Caribbean.
Concacaf would only strengthen by having only 8 members vying for 3 places (Nicaragua and Belize should go to CFU). Teams would become more competitive with an aggresive round robin format, like has happened w Conmebol.
I’ve said they needed to do this for a long time. It just makes no sense for squads like New Caledonia to be a heartbeat away from the World Cup playoffs. It’s also not right for a confederation to continue to exist on its own when its single strongest member has gone elsewhere. Travel is certainly going to be an issue, but it’s already an issue for the OFC and AFC. I don’t think this makes the problem significantly worse.
A federation stretching from Saudi Arabia to the remote islands of the South Pacific? That’s a good idea.
Asia is so huge and diverse, why not split the confederation in two and have West Asia & the Middle East on one side and East Asia & Oceania on the other side?
Oh thank God. Now let’s get rid of the wretched kafala system.
Who would want to leave a ‘”paradise” such as Qatar. Most desirable places you need a visa for entry. Only Qatar, you need one to get out. LOL
I’m not a fan of cultural relativity. I mean some stuff is harmless like in Japan one is expected to show deference to those above you.(ex:To talk to your boss you have to go through 4 doors and 8 secretaries) The much of Arab culture is just too different to ours for comfort. This isn’t Saudi Arabia were talking about but still.
I don’t feel that one should be required to accept or like all aspects of some cultures. I don’t endorse blind tolerance.