Zahir Belounis. Remember him? Yes, the French footballer that has been held hostage, has finally gained freedom. He has been stranded in Qatar, with his wife and two daughters, and had been denied an exit visa until he agreed to drop a legal case against his former club, Al-Jaish, over his claim of almost two years' unpaid wages.
Belounis joined Qatari side Al-Jaish in 2007. He later extended his contract until June 2015 but from November 2011 the club stopped paying his salary and the lengthy dispute left him feeling suicidal, telling CNN: "I want to kill myself."
The club, it is said, put him under pressure to terminate his contract and sign a document confirming he was owed nothing by Al-Jaish. Belounis refused, concerned his signature would invalidate any claim.
However, the brother of Belounis, Mahdi, has now said on Twitter that he will return to France imminently after the long-running dispute was finally resolved.
FIFA said it was unable to help Belounis, as the player took his case to an ordinary court in Qatar rather than pursuing it through football channels, but pressure from other quarters appears to have finally worked. Soon after that setback, the 33 year old penned an emotional letter to Zinidene Zidane and Pep Guardiola to come to his rescue (HERE)
Players’ union FIFPro recently sent a delegation to Qatar to meet Belounis and lobby for his free passage out of the country, while a number of we reporters have fought a tenacious battle to keep his story in the news.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had also advocated for Belounis to be allowed to leave Qatar after be became trapped by the kafala system which dictates that migrant workers can only leave the country with their employers' permission.