Since the Norwegian men’s football team failed to qualify last week for the controversial World Cup in Qatar next year, now it’s the leaders of the Norwegian football federation NFF who are being urged not to attend either. Concerns over ongoing human rights abuses and exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar continue.
Norway’s national team won’t be going to Qatar, after losing its last qualifying match against the Netherlands by a score of 2-0. “Given all the reports (of human rights abuses and slave-like conditions for workers imported to Qatar), NFF bosses should also stay home when the championship starts,” wrote Lars Erik Schou of the Norwegian supporter collective Aperopet in newspaper Dagsavisen.
Schou noted how Amnesty International released a report just before Norway’s last qualifier in the Netherlands, documenting how officials in Qatar have not fulfilled promises to improve conditions for migrant workers. On the contrary, Schou wrote, the communications director for the World Cup committee in Qatar was arrested on allegedly trumped-up charges after he refused to lie about striking migrant workers who were starving after months of hard work without any pay.
Then Norwegian football magazine Josimar, which has written extensively about the human rights abuses tied to the World Cup in Qatar, was threatened with a lawsuit by the World Cup Committee if it didn’t delete several portions of an extensive story on communications director Abdullah Ibhais’ persecution. Even NFF reacted negatively to Qatar’s attempt, via a Norwegian law firm that was also strongly criticized, to muzzle the press.
A lengthy debate in Norway over whether its team should boycott the World Cup is now moot, since the Norwegians didn’t qualify to play. It remains the responsibility of football officials, however, to challenge the human rights abuses. The disappointed head coach for the the Norwegian national team, meanwhile, promises Norway will qualify to play in the next big international football tournament, the European Championships in Germany in 2024.