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Haaland’s Norway hint at pre-match Qatar protest over human rights abuses


Oslo (AFP) – Striker Erling Haaland and several other Norway players are preparing a special gesture in support of migrant workers in Qatar ahead of this week’s first World Cup qualifier, coach Staale Solbakken said on Tuesday.

The Scandinavian nation will play Gibraltar on Wednesday in Marbella, Spain ahead of the World Cup in 2022, which has sparked a growing debate around human rights conditions in the emirate.

Solbakken’s squad plan to use the fixture as an opportunity to express their reservations about Qatar’s human rights record.

“We’re working on something concrete,” Solbakken told a press briefing, without revealing the details.

“It’s about putting pressure on FIFA to be even more direct, even firmer with the authorities in Qatar, to impose stricter requirements,” he explained.

Martin Odegaard, who was recently promoted to captain, said he felt the whole team wanted to make a statement.

“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,” the attacker, who is on loan to Arsenal from Real Madrid, told reporters.

Several Norwegian clubs have spoken out in favour of a boycott of the World Cup after revelations by British newspaper The Guardian that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the 2010 World Cup was awarded to the Middle Eastern state.

The Norwegian Football Federation is expected to debate the issue at a special congress in June.

According to a poll published on Monday in newspaper Verdens Gang, 55 percent of Norwegians believe their country should boycott the event, while 20 percent are against it. 

Norway last qualified for a major international tournament with the European Championship in 2000 and are in Group G along with the Netherlands, Turkey, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar for the current campaign.

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