What can players' protest against Qatar achieve?
Although the Norwegian Football Federation has postponed its decision on whether to boycott the 2022 World Cup, the debate about human rights violations in host country Qatar has gained new momentum: during qualifying matches, not only the Norwegians but also the German, Danish and Dutch teams wore T-shirts featuring protest slogans. Commentators discuss the motives behind such actions.
It's good when athletes get political
Le Monde believes that the most effective form of pressure is that which comes directly from the players:
“Collective support for Black Lives Matter, commitment on the part of British players Raheem Sterling against systemic racism and Marcus Rashford on behalf of poor children, Antoine Griezmann's stance against the persecution of Uighurs, Kylian Mbappé and others against police brutality in France, etc. ... When footballers develop political awareness (or display it once again), when they grant themselves the right to be citizens and when their legitimacy as such is no longer contested, when they put pressure on sponsors and federations, the use of major competitions for 'sportwashing' operations will be undermined.”
Go there and say what you think
Jydske Vestkysten argues that the idea of simply boycotting such events ignores the reality of the situation:
“We should not legitimise such regimes by participating in their events, people say. But it's not that simple. The world is not good enough for us to pursue a policy of only trading with democracies. They only make up half of the world, so it's going to be difficult with exports, sporting events and holidays in the Danes' favourite countries like Thailand, Turkey or Dubai, for that matter. The right thing to do would be to state clearly what we think of human rights and democracy being trampled on. That applies to the Danish Football Association and also to the players. ... Also in Qatar. That will achieve more than simply staying away.”
Inconvenient questions finally being asked
Qatar isn't the only country that should be pilloried here, writes sports journalist Håvard Melnæs in The Guardian:
“So are we witnessing a wind of change in international football, or is this all moral window-dressing? The demonstrations against the World Cup in Qatar may backfire. Because, where do you draw the line? Shouldn't Martin Ødegaard, when protesting against worker exploitation in Qatar, do the same against his club's most important sponsor, the United Arab Emirates, which treats its migrant workers the same or perhaps worse than Qatar? But the most important thing here is that football is finally being asked some inconvenient questions.”
Democracies must unite as hosts
Kristeligt Dagblad looks ahead with cautious optimism:
“More or less questionable regimes use the role of host to gain legitimacy. China and Russia are good examples of this. This places huge demands on those who select the hosts, and neither Fifa nor the International Olympic Committee have done particularly well here. ... But perhaps collective hosting is the answer? This summer the European Football Championship will be held in twelve different countries, and football fans can look forward to the World Cup in 2026, which will be jointly hosted by Mexico, the US and Canada.”