Odegaard speaks out against world cup in Qatar; a country built on slavery

By Tony Attwood

For me the news that Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Odegaard and some other players from Norway wore t-shirts with the slogan ‘Human rights, on and off the pitch’ was extraordinary, and incredibly welcome.

If you are a regular Untold reader you might know that I have been arguing for quite a while in support of migrant workers building World Cup venues in Qatar for the 2022 finals.  This was heightened when last year Amnesty revealed migrant workers had gone unpaid by a private Qatari company for up to seven months while building Al Bayt Stadium, unable to leave the job, unable to leave the country.

My argument is that taking the knee in favour of Black Lives Matter while ignoring what Qatar is doing, and worse, going to the world cup finals in full knowledge that Qatar is the home of modern slavery, is just the ultimate in hypocrisy.  I have found very little in the media to support that notion – TV, radio and the press all talk up the next world cup as a wonderful thing, with no contrast with the Black Lives Matter protest ever mentioned.

Until now.

It is a breakthrough moment, and although I am sure most of the media is going to ignore this, given that beforehand all we had was silence and no commentary on the this issue.  But eventually, if the debate can become public enough the media will catch up, pretending as ever that they were there all the time.

Speaking of the statement, the chief coach of Norway Staale Solbakken, announced that his squad were working on various ways of bringing this issue to the attention of world football.  xture 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,” Odegaard said.  And the fact this was said by a man from Arsenal (although admittedly only on loan at Arsenal) is something I am very happy about, and I think should make all Arsenal fans proud.

The move by the Norwegian players was reported in the Guardian which has also noted that “more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded to the Gulf state.”  They also state that “The Norwegian Football Federation is expected to debate the issue at a special congress in June.”

The Guardian also adds that “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.”

Although the rest of the British media, following its traditional “football first human rights last” approach have ignored the story, the Guardian’s piece has been picked up by the media in many other nations.  It isn’t front page news yet, but it is a superb first step, and I am delighted that player currently at Arsenal is at the very centre of this protest.

The slavery files & the FA

7 Replies to “Odegaard speaks out against world cup in Qatar; a country built on slavery”

  1. It says a great deal for the Norwegians that they are prepared to make this stand. Sadly, in recent years, British politicians have chosen to perpetrate a jingoistic approach to life whereby foreigners are the problem and when things go wrong it is their fault not that of the people who actually have the power and make the decisions.

    I could go on but this is neither the time or the place. Suffice to say I would be extremely happy if Odegaard was able to convince the club to support this cause and even more happy if England boycotted the World Cup. As we have experienced over the last year, there are things more important than football, it’s a shame the Qatari government and FIFA both think it’s money………………..and I don’t hold out much hope of billionaire media owners disagreeing with them.

  2. I am surprised that this was reported anywhere at all. Well done to all those Norwegian players for making their stance clear. I hope other nations take note and a collective effort is made to stop or boycott the Death cup taking place in Qatar. I know this is probably not going to happen but I will take comfort in the action of these players whilst enjoying my own personal boycott. Slave lives matter

  3. Mikey

    I agree this is a tricky subject for a football forum as the issue goes far far deeper than just football, and understandably emotions run deep.

    Which is why I will reframe from commenting in any detail because unfortunately it seems to me no matter what you say, whatever view you have, someone, somewhere will label you a racist simply because you don’t follow THEIR exact view.

    The irony is, this kind of attitude shuts down debate, which I would of thought was the exact opposite to what was needed if we are to come together as one to address these issues.

  4. Just published on the BBC website:

    Football’s world governing body, Fifa, said Norway will not face “disciplinary proceedings” for the protest.

    “Fifa believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good,” a statement said.

    Well that’s big of them not to discipline the players! The concept that FIFA believes in “the power of football as a force for good” is a level of spin of which the most disingenuous politician would be proud!

  5. OT
    Smith- Rowe picked for his England under 21 international debut. Nketiah is playing as well.
    It is on Sky, they are playing Switzerland and kick off at 2pm.

  6. I for one will boycott the world cup also the qualifying games I will be turning off the tv whenever international matches are played and will be giving this fiasco the elbow . It aint much but its all I got.

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