'Human rights - on and off the pitch' is message from Norway national team as they protest World Cup in Qatar; Potential boycott has been discussed; Norway's football association sets up committee to look into concerns; FIFA statement: "FIFA believes in the freedom of speech"
Thursday 25 March 2021 12:58, UK
The Norway squad wore T-shirts to express concern about the Qatar 2022 World Cup and its hosts' human rights record ahead of their qualifying match against Gibraltar on Wednesday.
Player had shirts with the message 'human rights - on and off the pitch' while they were warming up for the game.
A February study by the Guardian revealed that 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded to them, and 37 deaths among workers directly linked to the construction of stadiums.
There have been discussions in Norway over a potential boycott of the competition, with Norwegian club Tromso leading the calls.
A FIFA spokesperson said in a statement: "FIFA believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good.
"No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA."
Norway coach Stale Solbakken had said ahead of the game: "It's about putting pressure on FIFA to be even more direct, even firmer with the authorities in Qatar, to impose stricter requirements."
Captain Martin Odegaard, who was forced off with an ankle knock during the game, added: "I have the impression that a lot of (players) are interested in this, care about it and want to do something to try and contribute in a good way."
Norway's football association (NFF) has this week set up a committee that will look into these concerns, following an announcement by the Netherlands football federation this week speaking out on the subject.
The committee consists of 14 people (six women, eight men) and the NFF says it contains "a broad composition of people in and outside football, with different voices in the debate and with important professional competence in the issues the committee is to assess".
According to the association, the committee will look at what the country "should do to respond to Qatar's handling of human rights in the country, including studying, assessing and setting on which instrument Norwegian football shall use for its reaction".