Martin Odegaard wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not Norway should boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar due to human rights abuses but he was clear that they needed to find a way to better influence change.

191222 mail on sunday qatarSpeaking in an interview after being named Norway’s new captain at the age of 22, Odegaard was asked about a range of things, including Erling Haaland and Qatar.

There are calls in a number of countries, including Norway, for teams to boycott the World Cup when it arrives in the footballing hotbed of Qatar, due to the human rights abuses and deaths of migrants charged with building the stadiums for the tournament.

“It’s great to have so many in Norway who care about something so important and difficult,” Odegaard said. “I think the best thing now is to discuss how we can better influence change.

“Whether there is a boycott or not, I think it’s important to focus on how we can make changes.

“For my part, it is something that encourages me, it is exciting. I am used to handling the media for a long time.”

A report released in February revealed that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died in preparation for the competition.

The Guardian wrote, “The findings, compiled from government sources, mean an average of 12 migrant workers from these five south Asian nations have died each week since the night in December 2010 when the streets of Doha were filled with ecstatic crowds celebrating Qatar’s victory.

“Data from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka revealed there were 5,927 deaths of migrant workers in the period 2011–2020. Separately, data from Pakistan’s embassy in Qatar reported a further 824 deaths of Pakistani workers, between 2010 and 2020.

“The total death toll is significantly higher, as these figures do not include deaths from a number of countries which send large numbers of workers to Qatar, including the Philippines and Kenya. Deaths that occurred in the final months of 2020 are also not included.

“A report from Qatar government’s own lawyers in 2014 recommended that it commission a study into the deaths of migrant workers from cardiac arrest, and amend the law to “allow for autopsies … in all cases of unexpected or sudden death”. The government has done neither.

“The Qatar government says that the number of deaths – which it does not dispute – is proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce and that the figures include white-collar workers who have died naturally after living in Qatar for many years. It also says that only 20 per cent of expatriates from the countries in question are employed in construction.

“The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population. However, every lost life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country,” the Qatari government said in a statement by a spokesperson.”