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31 Mar, 2022 15:05

Norway football boss told to ‘educate’ herself after Qatar criticism (VIDEO)

Qatar 2022 secretary general Hasan Al Thawadi chided Lise Klaveness for her remarks at the FIFA Congress
Norway football boss told to ‘educate’ herself after Qatar criticism (VIDEO)

Head of the Norwegian football federation Lise Klaveness was told to "educate" herself by Qatar 2022 Secretary General Hasan Al Thawadi after her remarks on his country's alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ community made during the FIFA Congress in Doha.

During a six-minute speech, Lise Klaveness said that in 2010: "World Cups were awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences" to Qatar and Russia.

She added that there is "no room" for employers "who do not secure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers" – with reports claiming 6,500 of them have died building stadia for the November tournament – nor hosts that "cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of the LGBTQ+ people coming to this theater of dreams".

"This is not the right forum, or the moment or the stage to discuss and analyze these issues," the general secretary of the Honduras soccer federation Jose Ernesto Mejia told her.

Taking the stage after, though, Al Thawadi suggested that the opinion of Klaveness, who is gay, was outdated and expressed disappointment that she had not requested a meeting before the congress to voice such concerns.

"We have spent 12 years of continuous work dedicated to delivering a tournament that leaves truly transformational social, human, economic and environmental legacies," Al Thwadi protested.

"I’d like to express a disappointment. [Klaveness] made no attempt to contact us and did not attempt to engage in dialogue before addressing congress.

"We are always open to constructive criticism based on understanding the context of the issues, understanding progress on the ground and from those who want to educate themselves before passing any judgment," he finished.

Klaveness, who is a former professional that once reached the 2007 World Cup semi-finals with the Norwegian national team, entered her role this month and is the Norwegian Football Federation's first female head.

"Football can inspire dreams and break down barriers but as leaders we must do it right, to the highest standards," she began in her speech.

"Last year Norway debated boycott of the World Cup in 2022," Klaveness revealed.

"Instead we voted for dialogue and pressure through FIFA as the best way to work for changes. Our members question ethics in sport and demand transparency. FIFA must act as a role model.

"Human rights, equality, democracy: the core interests of football were not in the starting XI until many years later," she continued after saying that the World Cups were awarded in "unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences."

"These basic rights were pressured onto the field as substitutes by outside voices. FIFA has addressed these issues but there’s still a long way to go. The migrant workers injured, the families of those that died in the build-up to the World Cup must be cared for," she demanded.

"FIFA must take all necessary measures to really implement change. It is vital that the current leadership continue wholeheartedly in this way, moving from policy to impact.

"FIFA must set the tone and lead," Klaveness stressed.

Later in the congress, FIFA president Gianni Infantino claimed his organization has "pushed the authorities in Qatar" from the outset and has "found in them a partner who was engaged in doing what was necessary to have the changes on human rights issues enacted and implemented in this country."

"It has to be recognized six years later that the work that has been done is exemplary. The work that in other countries has taken decades, has been done in a few years," he insisted.

In a prepared video, Infantino also said that recent labor legislation reforms in Qatar had been "incredible."

Yet on the same day as the FIFA Congress in the capital Doha, a report from The Guardian claimed that low-paid migrant workers have handed over billions of dollars in fees to secure their jobs in Qatar over the last decade.