Ex-Hibs man Brian Rice faces jail over Qatar debts

FORMER assistant Hibs manager Brian Rice faces jail in Qatar after running up £65,000 in gambling debts.

FORMER assistant Hibs manager Brian Rice faces jail in Qatar after running up £65,000 in gambling debts.

Rice, 49, says he blew the money he borrowed from the Qatari National Bank on online roulette. He is being prevented from leaving the country until the money is repaid.

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He borrowed the cash on arrival to set himself up in his new life as a coach.

His former Easter Road boss John Hughes is co-ordinating efforts to raise the money.

To date friends and family have managed to raise £40,000, but he needs another £25,000 before his former employers can grant him a visa allowing him to fly home.

The ex-Scotland and Hibs midfielder has been told if he cannot raise the cash by next week he will be thrown into jail indefinitely – a prospect he says terrifies him. He said: “ If I can’t get it in the next week, I’m finished. I’ll be thrown in prison indefinitely and God knows what will happen.

“I‘ve been told they keep you there until you have the money. But how can I get it if I’m in jail.

“You look on the internet and see the stuff that can happen in Qatari jails and it’s terrifying.

“All I want to do is get home, but the Qataris won’t give me an exit visa until I pay the debt.

“I’ve never been in such a bad way. I need help. I need to get home.

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“I’m so ashamed. The gambling is something I’ve been hiding for 30 years – all through my playing days”.

The divorced father-of-two worked as a football coach in the oil-rich country – which will host the World Cup in 2022 – for Al-Khor Sporting Club from last July, but has since lost his job.

Before going abroad he had a highly successful career, both as a player and coach.

In addition to playing for the Easter Road side he played for Nottingham Forest and was assistant manager under Hughes at both Hibs and Falkirk.

He has written to ex-soccer pals St Mirren boss Danny Lennon and Kilmarnock assistant Sandy Clark begging for help.

He says his ex-boss Hughes is co-ordinating his fundraising effort and that any donations should be sent to him.

Qatar has in the past been strongly criticised for its human rights record.

Amnesty International said in 2011 there were 19 people on death row.

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At least six foreigners were flogged for minor breaches of the country’s strict laws.

A Foreign Office spokesman said last night: “We’ve been in contact with Mr Rice and will continue to monitor the situation.”