London – Fifa will not punish Norway after their players protested about Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup before their qualifier against Gibraltar yesterday.
The players marked the start of their quest to qualify for the tournament by protesting against the Gulf state’s alleged treatment of workers before kick off in their opening match.
The Norway side, including Arsenal’s on-loan midfielder Martin Odegaard and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, wore t-shirts saying ‘Human rights — on and off the pitch’ as they lined up for the game, which they went on to win 3-0.
Although players have been punished by global soccer’s governing body Fifa and other football bodies in the past for making political statements, no action will follow from the protest.
“Fifa believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good,” the organisation said in a statement.
“No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by Fifa,” they added.
Qatar’s World Cup organising committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Norway team’s protest.
Norway have one of their best chances in recent memory to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 but a movement to boycott the tournament, started by top-flight club Tromso, has recently gathered pace in the country.
Tromso have asked the Norwegian soccer federation to consider boycotting the World Cup following an investigation by British newspaper The Guardian which claimed 6,500 migrant workers have died in work-related accidents since the tournament was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
Responding to the Guardian report, Qatar’s government said a “very small percentage” of over 1.4 million expatriates in the state had passed away between 2011 and 2019.
The government said “the mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population.”
The government’s statement said it had taken steps to improve health and safety of workers in the last two decades and had imposed punishments on business owners who violated safety standards. — Reuters