Gibraltar (AFP) – Norway stars Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Odegaard on Wednesday donned t-shirts with the slogan ‘Human rights, on and off the pitch’ in support of migrant workers building World Cup venues in Qatar for the 2022 finals.
Haaland, national captain Odegaard as well as teammates wore the shirts, with their protest printed in black and white, as the national anthems were played before kick-off in the World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar.
The gesture came as debate grows over alleged human rights abuses in Qatar, the controversial hosts of football’s most prestigious tournament.
On Tuesday, Norway coach Staale Solbakken said the squad planned to use the fixture as an opportunity to express their reservations.
“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.
Odegaard 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 World Cup was awarded to the Gulf 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.
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