Norwegians vote not to boycott Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers

June 21 – Norway will not boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar following a vote at an extraordinary meeting of Norway’s Football Federation (NFF) that dismissed the move with a strong majority, despite strong pressure from the grassroots levels over alleged human rights abuses of migrant workers in the Gulf state.

At the meeting, 368 delegates from the clubs and the NFF board, voted for a motion rejecting a boycott while 121 were in favour. The motion needed a simple majority of more than 50%.

Ahead of the vote spokesman of the Norwegian Supporters Alliance (NSA) Ole Kristian Sandvik said the matches in the Gulf state in 2022 will “unfortunately be like playing on a cemetery,” but the NFF countered that mine of reasoning by arguing that a dialogue should be continued with the World Cup hosts and try to bring about change and reform that way.

In February, Norwegian club Tromso began a call for a boycott over the alleged human rights abuses in Qatar at World Cup construction sites. Their call became a movement in Norway and even led to on-field protests from high-profile teams like Belgium and Germany.

Norwegians largely backed a boycott with 49% in favour of a boycott, while only 29% were against, according to a poll published by newspaper VG on Wednesday. But that was not enough to ensure a boycott.

Ever since Qatar was awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, the country has been at the centre of international criticism over its human rights practices. The Gulf state relies on an army of workers from the subcontinent to build World Cup infrastructure, which has led to a transformation of Doha, a spend in the billions of dollars and, according to The Guardian, the 6,500 worker deaths.

The vote however will have killed the momentum of the movement, even if fans in Denmark have also called for a debate in parliament.

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