Norway’s players will not be penalised by Fifa for championing human rights in Qatar. Confirmation emerged as the English Football Association indicated a need for greater action from the World Cup hosts to protect migrant workers.
With qualifying for next year’s World Cup beginning in earnest, a growing number of European nations are speaking up about human rights concerns in Qatar. Before playing Gibraltar on Wednesday night, Erling Haaland and his Norway teammates wore T-shirts that read “Human rights On and off the pitch”.
Laws of the game prevent players from using equipment that bears “any political, religious or personal slogans”, but on Thursday Fifa said they would be taking no action regarding the protest.
“Fifa believes in the freedom of speech and in the power of football as a force for good,” a spokesperson for the governing body said. “No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by Fifa.”
Football has begun to speak up on Qatar’s human rights record following a Guardian report that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in the country over the past decade. This week Amnesty International warned of measures that could undermine recent improvements in workers’ rights in the country.
This month the Dutch FA said it would not boycott the tournament, in line with Amnesty’s recommendations, but would “use the current spotlight on the World Cup and make our own contribution to efforts to improve the plight of migrant workers in Qatar”.
On Thursday the English FA issued a statement saying it intended to engage with the tournament in a “socially responsible” manner and that there was “still much more to be done” on human rights in the country.
The FA said it acknowledged the recent reports “regarding the conditions for migrant workers in Qatar”. The statement continued: “We are working closely with all to ensure that, if we qualify, we approach our participation in the upcoming Fifa World Cup in a socially responsible manner.
“From those discussions to date, we believe that there is evidence of some progress being made by Qatar, however we recognise there is still much more to be done.
“Our view remains that change is best achieved by working collaboratively with others so that we can continue to ask the right questions, while always being mindful that we have our own challenges in this country.”
The president of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, was asked this month about the deaths of workers in Qatar. “Every one is tragic and we acknowledge that,” he said. But he warned against a boycott saying: “Our position at Fifa has always been, and will always be, engagement and dialogue is the only and the best way forward to make changes happen.”