Norway coach, Stale Solbakken, has criticized world football governing body FIFA for awarding the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar.
Solbakken said ‘Fifa had the biggest failure’ and made the ‘biggest mistake’ when Qatar was controversially named host country in 2010, saying the ‘world was asleep’ when Qatar won tournament.
Qatar has been criticized for its stance on gay relationships, human rights and the treatment of migrant workers ahead of the tournament.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s friendly between Norway and the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, Solbakken said;
“The first few years after it was given to Qatar, I think the whole world was more or less asleep,” he said.
“I think it’s only been in recent years that it’s suddenly ‘Oh, the World Cup in Qatar’.
“I don’t think football has done enough, I don’t think the journalists have done enough. I also think you’ve been sleeping for a very, very long time.”
Norway, like the Republic of Ireland, did not qualify for the World Cup but Solbakken, when asked if he would have been uncomfortable taking his team to Qatar, added “I don’t think anyone is comfortable with that.
“But the teams going there, obviously the main problem for the players should be to play football and for the coaches to coach the team.
“But I think at the same time football politicians have a big responsibility to argue that this kind of way that certain World Cups should be going, that you have to act a certain way and that you have to have equal rights for all human beings and that everyone is treated well.”
Asked about Solbakken’s remarks, Republic of Ireland coach Stephen Kenny said: “It’s a legitimate criticism. I can’t discount that view. I’ve personally made that point on two times when we faced Qatar.
“I talked about when we played in Qatar in our group home and outside, the disparity between rich and poor in Qatar, the death of migrant workers – obviously the numbers have been questioned, different media gave different accounts of these kinds of figures.
“But there’s no doubt that it was distressing and very tragic, really, in those circumstances. It shouldn’t happen, that’s for sure.”