Buddies no more

Buddies no more
Andrew Orsatti

From Australia to Lebanon and back again, Buddy Farah is hoping to relaunch his football career after a dramatic fall from grace.

A near death experience forced the Sydney-born Lebanese international to return home, and now, he's suing his former club, Nejmeh, for an alleged breach of contract.

"My main objective was to get back on the field and play to the best of my ability. I've been out of the game for six months because I couldn't get a clearance from FIFA," Farah told SBS.

"You'd expect a club, especially with a great history, to be loyal to its players but obviously they weren't loyal to me."
"What really upset me was that I was crook, really crook. I almost died in hospital and they knew that," a frustrated Farah added.

Having fully recovered from a serious liver infection, Farah is now fighting for his life as a professional footballer.

He was admitted to hospital, earlier this year, with Hepatitis A, after eating contaminated seafood.

"What they did for me in hospital was great because I recovered from it in time to escape having to undergo surgery and have something done to my liver."

He then left Beirut for further treatment in Sydney, on the condition he'd return to Nejmeh after an agreed six-week period.

However, during that time, Farah claims the club did not honour its financial commitments, and he refused to go back until it did so.

"The main reason I didn't return was because they promised to pay me my money and they didn't. They kept dodging me and hanging up on me. I would be talking to them and they would just hang the phone up."

The former Marconi, Wollongong and Olyroos defender has now launched a brave legal attack on a club backed by one of the country's most powerful men, Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister who only quit his post last week.

"I do worry about my safety going to a country where the supporter base is very fanatical," Farrah said.

Farah joined Nejmeh in 2003, on a two-year deal worth an estimated $220,000. He's seeking compensation of $120,000 in outstanding payments, plus potential bonuses.

His legal team will argue the 26-year-old has also been robbed of income from representing Lebanon, something he's done on 17 occasions.

The bitter dispute comes at a delicate time when Farah is being considered for Lebanon's upcoming World Cup qualifier against Vietnam.

"I'm in quite a predicament at the moment, trying to seek compensation for my losses. It's currently in the hands of a court in Lebanon and it wouldn't be a good idea to go back at the moment."

Fearing for his safety, Farah says he would only play for Lebanon outside the country, but for now, the player of dual nationality is focused on matters closer to his real home, after joining NSW Premier League side, Bankstown City Lions.

"I want to put all my efforts in to playing for Bankstown, which has been loyal to me and given me everything that I've wanted so far," Farah declared.

"Hopefully that will earn me a gig in the new national competition or interest from an overseas club."

Updated: Sat, Oct 30, 2004 07:33:33 AM AEST
All photos copyright AAP


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