Norway's football team 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 yesterday, Reuters reported.
The Norway side wore t-shirts saying "Human rights – on and off the pitch" as they lined up for the game, which they went on to win 3-0.
Qatar's World Cup organising committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Norway team's protest.
Norway have one of their best chances in recent memory to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 but a movement to boycott the tournament, started by top-flight club Tromso, has recently gathered pace in the country.
Tromso asked the Norwegian football federation to consider boycotting the World Cup following an investigation by British newspaper the Guardian which claimed 6,500 migrant workers have died in work-related accidents since the tournament was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
Responding to the Guardian report, Qatar's government said a "very small percentage" of over 1.4 million expatriates in the state had passed away between 2011 and 2019.
The government's statement said it had taken steps to improve health and safety of workers in the last two decades and had imposed punishments on business owners who violated safety standards.
The 2022 World Cup is set to take place in Qatar, and it will be the first time the tournament is held in the months of November and December instead of traditional summer in order to avoid the gruelling summer temperatures experienced in the Gulf state.
This will also be the first time that the Middle East has hosted a major global sporting event. Analysts believe that the FIFA World Cup in Qatar will boost the region's global profile.