Norway’s players will face no disciplinary action from FIFA for their decision to wear T-shirts with the message ‘Human rights on and off the pitch’ to show their support for migrant workers in Qatar.
Ahead of Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Gibraltar in the opening game of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, Norway’s team – including star striker Erling Haaland and playmaker Martin Odegaard, who is also captain – wore the T-shirts during the national anthems.
Odegaard had said before the game that the team were planning to make their feelings clear, with Norwegian clubs having pressurised the country’s football association to boycott the upcoming World Cup, which takes place in November and December next year.
These objections followed a report in The Guardian newspaper in February revealing that over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010, seeing off competition from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.
The report also suggested that the actual death toll would be much higher, due to a lack of data from a number of countries such as the Philippines and Kenya, while deaths that occurred late in 2020 were not accounted for.
In response, the Qatar organising committee stated: “We deeply regret all of these tragedies and investigated each incident to ensure lessons were learned. We have always maintained transparency around this issue and dispute inaccurate claims around the number of workers who have died on our projects.”
The Qatari government, meanwhile, insisted the mortality rate was “within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population”.
In the warm-up, Norway’s players wore T-shirts with a different message: ‘Respect on and off the pitch’.
FIFA’s laws prohibit players from bearing “any political, religious or personal slogans”, but in this instance, football’s governing body has confirmed Norway will not have a case to answer.
“FIFA believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good,” a statement read.
“No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA.”