World Cup 2022: The biggest criticism of Qatar comes from a country that has not qualified
Created: 05/08/2022, 09:18
By: Andreas Schmid
Norway's national football team around Erling Haaland (3rd from left) sets an example against the Qatar World Cup.
No Fifa member is more critical of the emirate.
© NurPhoto/Imago (montage)
Nowhere is the Qatar headwind greater than in Norway.
In the meantime there was a heated boycott debate.
The country is not qualified - but the criticism remains.
Oslo/Doha – Lise Klaveness doesn't fit into the Fifa image.
Unlike many of her - mostly male - colleagues, the boss of Norwegian football has a problem with the world football association.
And say so openly and honestly.
As recently at the Fifa Congress in Doha.
She is a symbol of Norwegian criticism of Qatar.
Qatar World Cup: Norway criticizes "unacceptable" World Cup - Infantino praises "greatest show on earth"
The former Norway international started her speech with memories of her childhood.
She started playing soccer as a little girl to fit in.
She fell in love with the sport.
A sport that FIFA is threatening to destroy.
"In 2010, the World Cup was awarded by Fifa in an unacceptable manner and with unacceptable consequences," Klaveness said.
“Human rights, equality and democracy, the core concerns of football” were not taken into account in the award process.
Her speech was a resounding slap in the face for FIFA and Qatar, and the reaction in the auditorium was correspondingly cold.
She felt "a bit lonely" there, Klaveness said later in an interview with the sports information service.
Klaveness is what they call a "fotballjente" in Norway, a soccer girl.
As a child she fell asleep in bed with the stinky ball, as a grown woman she played 73 times for her country.
At 41, she now regularly criticizes the powers that be in professional football.
Fifa boss and sun king Gianni Infantino is actually not used to so much headwind.
The Swiss prefers to be told his version of the Qatar World Cup.
The World Cup is "the best of all time", "the greatest show on earth".
In Norway the opinion is different.
Nowhere else in the world is the tournament viewed so critically.
Lise Klaveness has been president of the Football Association of Norway since March 2022.
After a few days in office, she criticized Fifa at the congress in Doha.
© Kyodo News/Imago
Qatar World Cup: "We tried to achieve a boycott"
By the summer of 2021, there were serious considerations that the Norwegian national team would boycott the winter 2022 tournament.
Öyvind Alapnes, boss of top division club Tromsö IL, launched an initiative to put pressure on the association.
A major debate followed in the country, in which the association also took part.
The national team around Dortmund star Erling Haaland sent messages on warm-up shirts before the World Cup qualifiers.
For example, they called for “fair play for guest workers”.
For national coach Stale Solbakken (formerly with 1. FC Köln) it is clear that "sport and politics are connected" and that you can make a difference.
In the end, however, it was not a boycott.
"We tried to achieve a boycott," says Tromsö captain Ruben Jenssen in an interview with Ippen.Media.
“But we are so small and cannot do anything on our own.
We had the fans and other first division clubs behind us, but in the end the association decided against a boycott.”
Qatar World Cup: "We cannot look away at a World Cup against all values of sport"
The former head of the association and Klaveness' predecessor Terje Svendsen did not see a suitable means in a boycott to bring about changes in Qatar.
Instead, they want to improve the human rights situation through on-site dialogue.
Norway had previously set up a newly formed Qatar committee.
He too came to the conclusion that the national team should not boycott.
Norway has not qualified for the World Cup in Qatar anyway.
However, the criticism of the desert emirate does not end there.
This is not only shown by Lise Klaveness, who did not want to comment on the boycott plans when asked.
Tromso, the northernmost professional club in the world, wants to continue to draw attention to the human rights situation in Qatar.
The first division team is taking innovative paths.
Most recently, a jersey including a QR code was presented.
If you scan the jersey, you end up on an information page about Qatar.
“We are only a small part of the football world,” says captain Jenssen about the city of 70,000.
"But we cannot look away when a World Cup is being played against all the values of sport, when people have to die in stadiums."
Norway: Great media criticism of Qatar
Norway's media landscape is also very critical of Qatar.
The big newspapers like
regularly report on the situation on the ground.
Norwegian television has also been there several times.
Two journalists from Norway were detained in Qatar for more than 30 hours at the end of 2020.
Security forces are said to have deleted footage.
The two men had previously reported critically.
Freedom of the press is a valuable asset in Norway.
When the media were uninvited from a panel discussion in Qatar at short notice, Klaveness also canceled their participation.
In the current press ranking by Reporters Without Borders, the Scandinavian country has taken the top spot for the sixth time in a row.
"Among other things, this is due to a high degree of media pluralism, the media's great independence from politics, strong freedom of information laws and a journalist-friendly climate despite occasional online attacks," as Reporters Without Borders explains.
World Cup critic Norway: One of Qatar's biggest energy competitors
It is not surprising that Norway is Qatar's biggest critic.
Scandinavia has traditionally been very committed to human rights.
The fact that the debate about a Qatar boycott is being steered from Norway could also be due to the competitive relationship with Qatar.
Like the desert emirate, Norway is also a major international player in the natural gas and oil markets.
Germany gets more than half of its natural gas from Russia, almost a third comes from Norway and a small part from the Netherlands.
According to figures from the energy company BP, Europe imported almost 115 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas, also known as LNG, in 2020.
According to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, the most important trading partner was Qatar with 27.1 billion cubic meters.
The USA delivered 22.5 billion cubic meters to Europe, and another 17.1 billion cubic meters came from Russia.
But the EU also imported large quantities of LNG from Norway.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is used when there is no pipeline connection between the producer and the consumer.
Natural gas liquefies when it is cooled to -162 degrees Celsius.
It's usually more expensive than pipeline gas.
Western countries like Germany have recently intensified their energy partnership with Qatar.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) recently announced a “great” cooperation.
The competitive relationship between Qatar and Norway will of course increase as a result.
When asked, the Norwegian government did not want to answer whether it would have an impact on the criticism of the emirate.
You want to concentrate on the sport and the grievances in the World Cup host country.
After all, there is a lot to criticize.