December 8, 2021

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Solbakken in the throat of Qatar and Peter Schmeichel

Solbakken in the throat of Qatar and Peter Schmeichel

Norway is out of the fight for a World Cup ticket to Qatar next year, but that hasn’t slowed Ståle Solbakken’s commitment to the debate, which has once again erupted after a devastating Amnesty report and the arrest of two NRK workers while working in the world. cup organizer.

It is tragic for all sides and a huge target for Qatar. I spoke a lot in the last year with Halvor at NRK, who is now arrested, and I have a lot of respect for him and I feel for him. But on top of all the suffering, I hope something good has come out of it, says Solbakken.

Back to Norwegian land: NRK journalist Halvor Ekeland, who was arrested along with photographer Luqman Ghorbani in Qatar, will be received by his family after arriving in Gardermoen on Wednesday morning. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB

He cites reports from Extra Bladet cemetery journalist Jan Jensen from inside Qatar, and Olof Lund’s TV4 interviews with World Cup chief and ex-goalkeeper giant Peter Schmeichel, as exemplary journalism.

Schmeichel has been invited to Qatar to watch Formula 1 matches and shine in qualifying next year, and was going to ask questions about how he saw Amnesty International’s reports on the miserable conditions of migrant workers.

– I do not want to participate in that at all and the reason is that we play football and love football and organize football tournaments everywhere in the world. This has always been the case. Schmeichel said, among other things, before the reporter asked if it was because Sweden did not qualify all the questions about Qatar.

Enjoying Qatar: Old goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was visiting Qatar last week, where he, among other things, won Formula 1 and competed for the World Cup organizer.  Photo: Hasan Pratik / DPA

Enjoying Qatar: Old goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was visiting Qatar last week, where he, among other things, won Formula 1 and competed for the World Cup organizer. Photo: Hasan Pratik / DPA

take a strong distance

Solbakken thinks the interview sums up the problem in international football well.

Olof Lunde gave an excellent interview with the President of the Qatar Mundial, and with Peter Schmeichel. It showed a little bit of the problem we have in football. Perhaps I admired him more as a goalkeeper than as a football politician or whatever I should call it. The national team manager says I veer away from what he said there.

David Beckham has also signed a lucrative ambassador agreement with Qatar, something Solbakken believes in and hopes will raise the case for the championship in England as well.

I read the English newspapers regularly and see that the tabloids there have largely taken over. I see Bayern supporters putting pressure on the management there, so something good could be coming from this, not least because of the AI ​​report.

Recorded against Qatar: Ståle Solbakken and the Norway national team focused on migrant worker rights before each qualifying match.  Photo: JORGE GUERRERO

Recorded against Qatar: Ståle Solbakken and the Norway national team focused on migrant worker rights before each qualifying match. Photo: JORGE GUERRERO

My hope was always that the major football nations would start putting more pressure on this, which we saw hints when Germany and Holland followed through with what we started with different celebrations. I don’t want this to be a Norwegian, Swedish or Scandinavian project, I want more and more people to follow suit. There is some indication at the time that this is happening, although there have been more setbacks than progress. There we must lie down and admit it. But that doesn’t mean we can give up. Football does not bear the full burden, so what can businessmen do, what can politicians do? Solbakken says it shouldn’t just be the NFL against Qatar.

– Do you have the same situation now as before, this dialogue is the way to go?

– It’s important to say that in the process here, the NFF management and I have been very respectful of the boycott card. No one can really argue that there are valid reasons for the boycott. But what can one do from the inside? Not that we should receive any honor or praise, but we have received good feedback from Amnesty both nationally and internationally. But what I want to be proud of is the players, they were very concerned that this had to be done in a nice way, says Solbakken.

– looks naive

Highlights of an episode before Norway’s most important away match against Montenegro in March, which the team won 1-0.

We were whipped to win that match, and before our last crucial tactical meeting, Martin Odegaard, Mats Muller-Delle and Christopher Ager spent 30 minutes with our fans and frankly discussing the different points of view. The players were very familiar with this the whole time. There was not much discussion and debate in any country. It’s important not just to dig in the trench, Solbakken says, but to have a building spirit.

FIFA President: – There is a remarkable development in Qatar

Which means that sticking to his original position, this boycott was not the way to go.

– I emphasize that we must participate and try to influence everything we can. Then it may seem naive, and it seems that you cannot do that with FIFA or the Qatari authorities. There are many indications that it is very difficult to access. Then we will see if the snowball can roll faster, and there may be more and more pressure on it. Like I said, it was always my hope that the great nations would join in, he says.

The events of the past few days have shaken NFF General Secretary Pål Bjerketvedt.

– Just a few weeks ago, I attended a meeting of the Nordic countries where we met via video link with the head of the World Cup Committee in Qatar. One of the questions then specifically was freedom of speech and freedom of the press. He then gave a clear guarantee that freedom of the press and expression was 100 per cent in effect before, during and after the tournament. He said that international journalists will be able to move freely and report in all parts of Qatar.

– What do you think of this promise now?

– It’s a clear violation of that promise. It is disappointing, and it erodes the confidence and credibility of the work that the World Cup Committee and the authorities are now doing. Also as to whether we can trust the answers we get in questions about human rights and the situation there.

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