Soccer

Players' union seeks urgent Qatar talks

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LONDON (AP)

A delegation from the international footballers' union is going to Qatar to challenge authorities over concerns players' rights are being abused in the 2022 World Cup host nation.

FIFPro is demanding action is taken to stop players who are in dispute with Qatari clubs from being prevented from leaving the country.

The ''kafala'' employment system has been thrust back onto the international agenda by the case of French-Algerian player Zahir Belounis. He is under contract at Al-Jaish until 2015, but has been denied the chance to leave Qatar because he is suing the club in order to recover unpaid salary.

FIFPro said Tuesday that its delegation plans to meet Belounis as it tries to ''resolve the deplorable situation'' during the four-day visit to Qatar from Thursday.

FIFPro is seeking ''urgent talks'' with Qatar's football leadership and organizers of the 2022 World Cup to ask for the ''kafala'' system to stop applying to footballers and to establish an independent players' association in a bid to ensure their human rights are respected.

''The World Footballers' Association will not sit idly by as the rights of our players are being abused,'' FIFPro said.

The FIFPro delegation, led by board member Mads Oland, will also include members of the International Trade Union Confederation concerned about the plight of migrant workers in Qatar.

Focusing on projects linked to the 2022 World Cup, rights group Amnesty International recently published a report cataloging how some construction workers in the Gulf nation are exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor living standards and the non-payment of wages.

''While FIFPro's primary concern must be the players, we will not overlook the tragedy which is currently unfolding in Qatar,'' FIFPro said in a statement. ''FIFPro is seriously concerned by allegations of human rights violations in the construction of World Cup stadia and related infrastructure.''

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