Football

Norway could be banned from World Cup as FIFA wait on weekend decision

Norway’s soccer players marked the start of their quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar by protesting against the gulf state’s alleged treatment of workers before kick off in their opening match against Gibraltar on Wednesday.

FIFA could threaten Norway with a ban from the 2026 World Cup as part of sanctions they are considering over the country’s potential boycott of the 2022 tournament, according to a report from the country.

Norway’s players – including Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland – have voiced their disapproval over the tournament being held in Qatar next year due to the nation’s questionable human rights record.

Players have worn t-shirts criticising the decision before matches, and the Norwegian FA (NFF) have been consistent in their belief that the tournament should not be staged there.

Norwegian publication NRK say that the NFF will hold a vote on Sunday when they will reach their final decision over whether or not they will boycott next winter’s tournament.

Norway – who are not at the ongoing European Championships – have already played in three qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, beating Gibraltar and Montenegro and losing 3-0 to Turkey in March.

Prior to those three games, Norway players warmed up in t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Human rights on and off the pitch’ in what was seen as a damaging incident for FIFA, who have consistently backed their decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar despite a large amount of public outcry.

In February, The Guardian reported that 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded to the country 10 years ago, with the vast majority coming from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

That amounts to an average of 12 deaths of migrant workers every week.

It isn’t known where these workers were employed, but it is likely that many would have been involved in the World Cup infrastructure projects, as seven new stadiums and several other structures are being built across the country.

The NRK report states one in every two Norwegians that they have surveyed would back the NFF if they decided to boycott the tournament, with 26 per cent saying they should not boycott and 24 per cent stating that they weren’t sure.

They go on to state the possible punishments that FIFA are considering for the Norwegians should they decide to pull out of the qualification process, with a fine of 40,000 Swiss Francs on the table as well as financial penalties due to the other teams in Norway’s qualification group.

The NFF have said in a statement: “”FIFA is clear that they want to equate a boycott with withdrawing from the competition, which will mean that Norway does not participate further in the qualifying game.”

Much more damagingly though, FIFA are said to have written to the NFF to state that they risk a ban from the next World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico in 2026, having effectively already entered the 2022 tournament.

It is added that FIFA could also remove all grants and funding for Norwegian football should they decide to boycott.

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