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Abdeslam Ouaddou is a happy man. The former Moroccan footballer has just received the good news from the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber DRC), that he has won his case against his former club in Qatar. "People in Qatar now know, that they cannot get away with everything, even if you have a lot of money."

For Ouaddou, justice prevailed. He had a lasting conflict with his last club in Qatar, Qatar SC, which had not paid him for six months. And when Ouaddou filed his case with the FIFA DRC in September 2012, his exit visa was withheld. The person who kept his exit visa (a sponsor of the club) told Ouaddou, that the Morrocan would receive his permission to leave Qatar the moment after he withdrew his complaint to FIFA.

Ouaddou did the opposite. 'When I started saying that I was going to appeal to the Human Rights League as well, the tone changed. They quickly gave me my exit visa.' He left Qatar in November 2012.

Since that day, Ouaddou waited impatiently on the decision by the FIFA DRC. He was afraid that it would take a long time, because upon leaving Qatar, he was given a strong warning the club would do everything to make his case drag on. "Four or five years minimum. We have a lot of influence with FIFA', he was told.

To his own surprise, the FIFA DRC informed him two weeks ago, that he had won his case: exactly one year and four months after he filed the case. "Honestly, I think that without the support of FIFPro, it would have lasted four or five years to get to this point. My lawyer was surprised, as he helped other players who had to wait for a much longer period."


"I am very satisfied with the decision of the FIFA DRC", Ouaddou continues. "It shows that Qatari people don't have to think that they can get away with everything, that they don't have to respect the rules, that money can buy them everything."

The club – Qatar SC - must pay Ouaddou what he is owed. "For me, it is not about the money", he explains. "It is a matter of principle. I was fighting for my rights. That is why I am so happy with this victory."

Nevertheless, Ouaddou keeps his reservations. "I have only won the first half. Unfortunately, the Qataris are bad losers. They will appeal to CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport)." Ouaddou also expects to win that battle.

Ouaddou too lost something: his career as a football player. The 35-year old defender who made 57 appearances for the Moroccan national team quit his playing career after 17 years, as it proved to be too difficult to find a new club. "My family did not want to go abroad any more after what happened in Qatar. So, I was waiting for a good challenge in France, and I managed to find one."

With the help of the French footballers union (UNFP) Ouaddou enrolled at the University of Limoges to study Sport Management. He wants to learn about economics, marketing and management. "I have some ideas on how to run a club. I have seen terrible things ... "

Next to that, Ouaddou is also trying to obtain his coaching license.


Abdeslam Ouaddou talks with Didier Drogba

Qatar opened Ouaddou's eyes

The two years spent in Qatar opened Ouaddou's eyes on a number of issues. He likes to mention the importance of solidarity among all professional footballers, as well as their solidarity with all other workers.

"I am very happy with the support of FIFPro and all the players in the world", Ouaddou says referring to his problems in Qatar. "To me this support showed that there is a big solidarity among the players."

"I must also mention that I received a lot of support of the ITUC (the International Trade Union Confederation. I want to thank them as well."

"Now, I am telling all players, how important it is to join the union. There will be one moment in your career when you will need the union's help. That's why I am of the opinion that 100 percent of the players should be a member of the union."

Ouaddou likes to warn football players about the country's kafala system. "When I went to Qatar, I did not know anything. Nobody had informed me", he recalls. "Recently, a lot of players have been calling me for advice. I never tell them not to go to Qatar. But I do inform them about the kafala system. I advise them to ask for a permanent exit visa, to guarantee their freedom of movement. If you don't have this, you will feel enslaved."

"I also explain them that when they get sick or injured, or when they underperform, they will be left out of the squad immediately. A new player will take their place and receive their money. That is what more or less happened to me and to Zahir Belounis."


Abdeslam Ouaddou talks with Geremi Njitap

A World Cup dripping with blood

His experiences in Qatar make Ouaddou regret the prospect of the country hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"Football is such a beautiful game. It cannot be that, in the 21st century, a World Cup is organised in a country that does not respect Human Rights. We cannot send players to a country that does not respect the rights of the workers."

"We know the image that will be shown of Qatar when organising the World Cup. When you live there, you see how inhumanly the workers are treated. This is killing thousands of workers. That's why I protest against the 2022 World Cup in Qatar."

Ouaddou is referring to recent reports revealing among other things that 185 Nepalese migrant construction workers died in 2013, while the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) warned that up to 4,000 workers could die before the 2022 World Cup without meaningful reform of working conditions.

"I am asking all the players to open their eyes: 'How can we play in a stadium that is build with blood ...?'"

"We – all professional footballers – also have our values, we cannot accept this treatment of fellow workers."

"I am reading reports about a possible abolishment of the kafala system for professional footballers", Ouaddou continues. "If so, then I hope football can build a bridge for the other workers. That the kafala system will also be abolished for them."

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