Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress

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Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress

Norway’s FA President Lise Klaveness delivered a damning address 31st March at the FIFA Congress in Doha. The Qatar World Cup’s top organizer, Hassan Al Thawadi, accused her of failing to educate herself on the country’s human rights record. Read more about why Norway criticizes Qatari human rights record at FIFA Congress.

 “Must set the tone and lead,” Klaveness, who became the body’s first female leader in its 120-year history when elected this month, took to the stage at the 72nd FIFA Congress, over human rights issues that include awarding the World Cup to Qatar. The speech quickly drew pushback. “The World Cup had been awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences,” she said before highlighting a variety of issues including the treatment of migrant workers and concerns among the LGBTQ+ community over travelling to Qatar for November’s finals.

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Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress
“Football can inspire dreams and break down barriers but as leaders we must do it right, to the highest standards,” said Lise Klaveness. Photo: Screendump from TV2.

We must do it right
“Football can inspire dreams and break down barriers but as leaders we must do it right, to the highest standards,” she said. “Last year Norway debated boycott of the World Cup in 2022. Instead, we voted for dialogue and pressure through FIFA as the best way to work for changes. Our members question ethics in sport and demand transparency. FIFA must act as a role model.”

“In 2010, the World Cup was awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences,” Klaveness said. “Human rights, equality, democracy, the core interests of football, were not in the starting 11 until many years later. There is no room for employers who do not secure the freedom and safety of world cup workers.”

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Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress
“It is not the place to discuss such issues,” said Jorge Salomon, president of the Honduras FA. Photo: HonduSports

The speech quickly drew pushback
Klaveness called for migrant workers who were injured and the families of those who died in creating venues to be taken care of. “No room for leaders that cannot host the women´s game. No room for hosts that cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of LGBTQ+ people coming to this theatre of dreams,” she said. Noting that FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations barred Russia national team and clubs after the invasion of Ukraine when forced by “international pressure,” she added, “FIFA must set the tone and lead.”

Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress
Hassan Al-Thawadi, the Supreme Committee Secretary-General charged with delivering the World Cup, told assembled delegates he was disappointed by Klaveness’s comments. Photo: Wish Virtual

Klaveness’ speech was immediately followed by Jorge Salomon, president of the Honduras FA, whose brief address included the assertion that “it is not the place” to discuss such issues.

Hassan Al-Thawadi, the Supreme Committee Secretary-General charged with delivering the World Cup, told assembled delegates he was disappointed by Klaveness’s comments, and that she had visited Qatar but made no contact or request for any meeting.

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“Madam President, you visit our country and made no request for a meeting,” he said. “You did not attempt to contact us and did not attempt to engage in dialogue before addressing Congress today.

Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress
Nepali worklers in Qatar. Photo: Human Rights Resource Center

“I urge everybody, we have always been open for dialogue. We have always welcomed constructive criticism, criticism that is based on discussion, understanding the issues and understanding the context of the issues and the progress of the facts on the ground.”

“I would like to inform yourselves, as well as the Norwegian Federation and anybody who has doubts about the legacy of this World Cup, that this World Cup is creating legacy,” Al Thawadi said. “We are creating legacy before a ball has even been kicked. The International Labour Organization has described Qatar’s reforms as historic.

Klaveness later told reporters she had met Hassan on numerous occasions and voiced her concerns.

Qatar hosts the 32-team soccer World Cup this year from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18.

Norway Criticizes Qatari Human Rights Record at FIFA Congress, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): Photo: Espors

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