Erling Haaland leads Norway players in protest against Qatar human rights abuses

Jack Baer
·3 min read

Norway's best players are making their thoughts known about the decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar.

Ahead of the country's World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar on Wednesday, the Norwegian players took the pitch wearing T-shirts reading "Human Rights On and off the pitch." The shirts are an apparent protest against Qatar, part of a debate that has been raging in Norway this month.

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Among the players taking part in the protest was Erling Haaland, the 20-year-old superstar who typically suits up for Borussia Dortmund and is on track to become one of Norway's greatest athletes.

Ahead of the match, Norway coach Ståle Solbakken met with reporters wearing a similar shirt reading “Respect – on and off the pitch,” per the Guardian.

Norway went onto to defeat Gibraltar 3-0.

Norway's top clubs want boycott of Qatar World Cup

The decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, already one of the most criticized moves in the considerable history of questionable moves by FIFA, has received even more scrutiny in recent weeks.

A Guardian report in late February estimated the death toll of migrant workers taking part in Qatar's World Cup preparation to have reached 6,500, and that's just among workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The actual number is potentially much higher. Qatar, a small but wealthy country notorious for its use and abuse of migrant workers, defended its mortality rate as "within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population."

Since that report was published, several of Norway's biggest clubs have called for the country to pull out of the tournament should it qualify. That includes Rosenborg BK, Tromsø, Odds Ballklub, Strømsgodset, Viking and Brann, a group that has combined to win 39 of 55 titles in the history of Eliteserien, Norway's top division.

Any decision to be made on the World Cup will reportedly be unlikely until the Norwegian Football Federation's annual general meeting next year.

This is Norway's best shot at a World Cup in decades

If Norway opts to pull out of the World Cup, it will be foregoing a chance the country hasn't seen in decades.

Norway's last appearance in soccer's biggest event was back in 1998, when it reached the Round of 16 in France. In total, Norway has appeared in only three World Cups in the almost-century long history of the event.

The country's fortunes might be turning now, though, thanks to a wave of young talent headlined by Haaland. Wednesday's qualifier against Gibraltar is the first to be played this month, with Norway scheduled to face Turkey on March 27 and Montenegro on March 30.

Norway currently ranks 44th in FIFA's World Rankings.

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