Sven Mollekleiv (66) led the Qatar committee, which concluded that dialogue was the best tool in a meeting with the World Cup organizer Qatar. One year before the championship, he and committee member Tom Høgli (37) are prepared for several negative scandals related to the championship.
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– The big question that was asked in connection with the committee was whether a boycott would strengthen the rights. There was no one in the committee who thought so, but there were two who thought it was important to make the selection. Now the challenge is to follow up the 26 measures, and you have one year to intensify the work, says Mollekleiv.
On Wednesday morning, the two NRK journalists Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani returned to Norway, after they were arrested in Qatar on Sunday. The two NRK reporters were detained for 32 hours before being released:
Earlier this year, the Qatar committee set up by the Norwegian Football Association, led by Mollekleiv, presented 26 measures for lasting change in FIFA and Qatar. The committee was set up to discuss a possible Norwegian boycott of the World Cup in Qatar, and during the work with the committee, Høgli turned the question around and “doubted” that dialogue was the right thing to do.
– What does the sport do in general, through all the contacts that are with Qatar, and how to lift this up from nice markings – as we have seen from the national teams, to take the leadership responsibility that lies on the management of NFF and NIF in following it up. It is hard and concrete work that must be done every single day over time. Then individual markings do not hold to create lasting change, Mollekleiv believes.
This line, called the “dialogue line”, stands in contrast to the “boycott line”, which argues that a boycott is the best tool for putting pressure on the World Cup organizer. Both are controversial, but VG commentator Leif Welhaven wrote on Tuesday that the arrest of the two NRK journalists shows that the dialog bar has not worked.
– It is a totally unacceptable act by the Qatari authorities. It is a violation of fundamental rights about freedom of the press and expression, which was and is a clearly formulated requirement among the 26 measures that the Qatar committee and the football parliament adopted, says Sven Mollekleiv.
– The whole thing is nitrous, and it joins the ranks of many downturns lately. This is a very serious matter. This is not the first time they have arrested journalists and people who speak out. It is a very broken situation, says Tom Høgli to VG.
– You become insecure when the arrow points downwards. I doubted that strategy, but got an extra point in the report on a new assessment before kick-off. If there is no improvement, then the premise is completely different than in the Qatar Committee’s report. In any case, this is not the way to go for me, to say the least, says Høgli.
– Are you surprised by what has come out lately?
– No, not really surprised. In the Qatar report, Kjersti (Løken Stavrum) and I received an extra point that there was a great danger that we would experience revelations and reports that would embarrass football. Unfortunately, that’s what we’re seeing. I hope in time that the ship will turn. I still have a fervent hope that things will get better. I’m not surprised, unfortunately.
In 362 days, the World Cup will start in Qatar.
– I think there will be more similar cases. Several cases of violations. We have seen and will see some progress, we must report some decline so that we can put pressure on it, says Mollekleiv, and says that the important thing now is to mobilize.