(Reuters) - Soccer's world governing body FIFA will not punish Norway after their players protested about Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup before their qualifier against Gibraltar on Wednesday.
The players marked the start of their quest to qualify for the tournament by protesting before kick off in their opening match against the Gulf state’s alleged treatment of workers.
The Norway team, including Arsenal’s on-loan midfielder Martin Odegaard and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, wore t-shirts saying ‘Human rights - on and off the pitch’ as they lined up for the game, which they went on to win 3-0.
Although players have been punished by FIFA and other football governing bodies in the past for making political statements, no action will follow from the protest.
"FIFA believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good," it said in a statement.
"No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA."
Norway have one of their best chances in recent memory to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 but a movement to boycott the tournament, started by top-flight club Tromso, has recently gathered pace in the country.
Tromso have asked the Norwegian soccer federation to consider boycotting the World Cup following a report by British newspaper The Guardian.
The paper reported that its calculations showed that at least 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since it won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup 10 years ago.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Qatari World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), said: "We have always been transparent about the health and safety of workers on projects directly related to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
"Since construction began in 2014, there have been three work-related fatalities and 35 non-work-related deaths.
"The SC has investigated each case, learning lessons to avoid any repeat in the future. The SC has disclosed each incident through public statements and or Annual Workers’ Welfare Progress Reports," the spokesperson added.
Organisers say hosting the World Cup has led to a number of measures to improve conditions and rights for workers.
"With less than two years until the tournament begins, we will continue to use this opportunity to deliver sustainable change and leave a meaningful legacy beyond 2022," the spokesperson said.
The Qatari government has said "the mortality rate among these (migrant) communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population."
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris)