YOUNGSTORGET (VG) Football president Lise Klaveness (41) travels to Qatar at the end of the month for the second time in a short time. There she will fight for a safe world championship for gays.
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According to Qatar law, homosexuality can be punished with up to seven years in prison – which meant that Klaveness had to do research on her own safety before she traveled to Qatar and the FIFA Congress in March.
Now the football president travels to Qatar again at the end of June, to work for the safety of gays and workers, among other things.
There are three points she, together with representatives from several European countries, will confront the World Cup organizers with:
- Point one: Establish a permanent center for workers so that they have a physical location with legal aid, and that workers can understand their rights without risk.
- Point two: That good enough mechanisms should be established to provide compensation to workers with overload.
- Point three: Secure the rights of gays and LGBT + people.
She describes the last point as a “very difficult” topic.
– This is the Middle East, this. It is a religious and cultural issue, says the football president to VG.
– We must ensure and guarantee that everyone is welcome during the championship. They have said that it should be safe, but how do they work to deal with escalating situations with a police force that is used to acting in a different way? Because there will be situations with flags. Also of course hear how they intend to work with this after the championship, so LGBT + people are not exposed to higher risk after the championship.
Klaveness is concerned that situations with LGBT + people may escalate.
– I feel the risk is enormously high – it is too high in this area for a situation to escalate, says Klaveness, who points out that although the World Cup committee has made changes, it has not necessarily had changes implemented culturally or legally in Qatar.
The football president received a lot of international attention when she gave a speech at the FIFA congress where she criticized both the FIFA and World Cup organizers. A speech that, among other things, frustrated World Cup boss Hassan Al Thawadi.
The newly elected football president says that there have been several conversations between them after the congress.
– It was a bit of what his criticism back to us was – that we did not meet him with it (criticism) in person. But now we have had several digital meetings and I have met him in person. I experience that the conversations we have are open.
World Cup chief Nassar al-Khater has previously said that “I want to assure all fans, of all genders, sexual orientations, religions or races that Qatar is among the safest countries in the world – and everyone will be welcome here”, according to The Guardian .
– Do you believe that you can bring about any change?
– My focus is to do everything we can. Of course, it will not be what we want it to be, of course not. But the alternative of not doing it – we are committed to doing it. It was a unanimous federal council that has said that we must work and press. We simply have to work to change attitudes.
Klaveness thinks it is tough and difficult with the talks in Qatar – but the football president says that it is the tool you have to be able to create change in the country.
– No matter how well the World Cup committee works, we will disagree that a country is awarded a championship that does not have a women’s team, which shortly before the championship does not have a plan for how to handle legal security for LGBT + people, and which for many years – before it got better – has violated the human rights of workers in the stadiums, she concludes.
VG met Klaveness in connection with the awarding of the Frydprisen from FRI Oslo and Viken. The joy award went to the football president for, for several reasons, her efforts for gays over the past year.
– I accept it on behalf of the whole of Norwegian football, Klaveness said when she received the award.