KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The Norwegian football federation council is likely to decide in June whether to boycott the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar – assuming they qualify.
A demand from the Oslo-Orn club to debate the issue at a weekend online conference was rejected. Their proposal to add the issue to the agenda needed a two-thirds majority but was rejected 146-61.
A simple majority would then have been enough to decide on a boycott in protest at reported human rights abuses and sub-standard conditions for immigrant construction workers. Concern over the issue has revived lately after attempts by the World Cup organisers and Qatari authorities to clean up negative perceptions.
By June Norway’s World Cup qualifying effort will already be under way. Coach Stale Solbakken’s team open their campaign later this month against Gibraltar, Turkey and Montenegro.
Before the agenda vote Terje Svendsen, president of the Norges Fotballforbund, warned delegates: “Any decision now on a boycott of the finals would probably mean we would not be allowed to compete in the qualifying matches. It would not be fair play to participate in a qualification tournament after deciding we did not want to participate in the finals.”
The Qatar issue will thus be discussed at an extraordinary conference on Sunday, June 20. The NFF board is officially opposed to a boycott which has been supporting by a number of clubs.
Svendsen has appointed a task force to study the ramifications.
Oslo-Ørn’s Ole Kristian Sandvik said: “It is very good that we will have an extraordinary meeting. The federal board has shifted its position significantly after orginally only wanting such a debate in the autumn.”
The Qatar issue flared after an initiative from Tromso last month was supported by an increasing number of other top division clubs as well as by the Norwegian Supporters Alliance.
The Guardian reported recently that more than 6,500 workers from five Asian countries had died in Qatar in the last decade. Some 37 of the deaths had been directly related to stadium construction.
Norway have not qualified for the finals of a major tournament since appearing in the group stages of the European Championships in 2000.