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Norway FA president calls out FIFA in impassioned speech

Norway FA president Lise Klaveness talks during the 72nd FIFA Congress on March 31, 2022 at Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Norway Football Federation president Lise Klaveness delivered an impassioned speech at Thursday’s 72nd FIFA Congress in Doha, in which she condemned the 2010 decision to award Qatar the hosting duties for the 2022 men’s World Cup.

Klaveness, a longtime member of the Norwegian women’s national team, was elected earlier this month as the NFF’s first female president in its 120-year history.

In her address, she pointed out Qatar’s human rights failures. “The World Cup was awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences,” she said.

Drawing on her own experience as a footballer, Klaveness also specifically called on FIFA to advance the women’s game.

“There is no room for employers who do not secure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers. No room for leaders that cannot host the women’s game,” Klaveness said. “No room for hosts that cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of LGBTQ+ people coming to this theatre of dreams.”

The Qatar World Cup’s top organizer, Hassan Al Thawadi, responded to Klaveness at the event, saying she “made no request for a meeting” upon visiting the country.

“I urge everybody, we have always been open for dialogue. We have always welcomed constructive criticism, criticism that is based on discussion, understanding the issues and understanding the context of the issues and the progress of the facts on the ground,” Thawadi said.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, “abuse and exploitation of the [Qatar’s] large migrant workforce persisted in 2021 despite the introduction of labor reforms.” The Human Rights Watch report also noted that women continue to face “severe discrimination and violence.”