For the second time, Norway’s players wore T-shirts alluding to Qatar’s abject human rights record (particularly in the construction of World Cup stadia), keeping the momentum going after Germany’s players pulled off a similar protest a few days ago:
The ‘Next?’ is a challenge to other FAs and their players: who will take a risk in joining Norway and Germany?
Btw, Norway went on to play the match, a qualifier for the 2022 World Cup – and they played surprisingly poorly, losing 3-0 at home to Turkey (congrats to Turkey, it’s an excellent result for them). Or perhaps it wasn’t surprising if you think they were distracted by the protest and its possible consequences; anyway, Erling Haaland didn’t score, so something must be up.
Sceptics could say: If Norway and Germany are that bothered about human rights, why don’t they just boycott the tournament? Or why didn’t this sort of thing happen for the World Cup in Russia, another country with a dubious human rights record? Both valid points, but it’s hard not to admire Norway and Germany’s players for taking a stand. They are drawing attention to issues of morals and ethics at the highest level of football – and people will pay attention to players, especially high-profile players such as Haaland. It will be making FIFA most uncomfortable, I imagine.
I don’t expect England’s players will follow suit, which perhaps says more about my expectations than the English players. I hope I’m wrong, because it’s great to see elite athletes using their voice to comment on meaningful topics. A gesture is better than nothing.