When Klaveness delivered a controversial speech in Qatar in March of last year, she had only recently taken over as the NFF’s president.
A Norwegian official who made headlines after criticising World Cup host nation Qatar in a speech in Doha last year is looking to join the UEFA executive council, led by a top Qatari sports chief.
As one of the few female national football federation presidents, Lise Klaveness is running for a position on the board of directors of the European football regulatory body, the Norwegian Football Federation said Wednesday, according to AP.
The deadline to enter the election races, including the one for the female-only quota seat on the 20-member executive committee, has been set by UEFA for 5 February.
The 55 UEFA member federations will cast their votes at their annual meeting on 5 April in Lisbon.
If Klaveness succeeds, she would join Nasser Al Khelafi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Chairman of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), one of the most powerful figures in global football.
Al Khelaifi is the head of the European Club Association and a personal friend of Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, whose support is crucial for electoral success, reports said.
Klaveness stated that she met with Ceferin last week to discuss her candidacy in an interview with Norwegian TV NRK on Wednesday.
When Klaveness delivered a speech in Qatar in March of last year, she had only recently taken over as the Norwegian Football Federation’s (NFF) president.
On the night of the World Cup finals tournament draw, Klaveness, a judge and openly gay former national team player, called attention to Qatar’s record on migrant labour rights and its banning of homosexuality in front of football authorities from more than 200 countries.
“In 2010 World Cups were awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences. Human rights, equality and democracy – the core interests of football – were not in the starting XI,” she said during a FIFA meeting in Doha in March.
“These basic rights were pressured on to the field as substitutes, mainly by outside voices. Fifa has addressed these issues but there is still a long way to go.”
“Our game can inspire dreams and break down barriers but as leaders we must do it right and to the highest standards,” said Klaveness, who is herself a former Norway international.
“We cannot ignore the calls for change and how FIFA runs the game has so much to say for how the game is perceived. Fifa must act as a role model,” she added at the time.
The comments appeared to strike a chord with Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Hassan Al Thawadi, who expressed disappointment with the Norwegian for not approaching authorities directly.
“On [the issue of a] social legacy, I would like to assure the Norwegian FA,” he said.
“[But] I’d like to express a disappointment. Madame president visited our country and did not request a meeting. She did not attempt a dialogue before addressing Congress today. We have always been open for dialogue, we always welcomed constructive criticism.”
“We have always had the doors open for anybody who wants to understand the issues, who wants to educate themselves before passing any judgment,” Al Thawadi said, taking aim at the comments.
In October, however, Klaveness appeared to soften her position on the FIFA World Cup 2022 after months of scathing criticism of Qatar, though the footballing official said more needs to be done.
She pointed towards “impressive” work by FIFA and the World Cup organising body to address concerns on welfare issues in the Gulf state, in comments made during public parliamentary hearing on the protection of workers’ rights in Qatar, organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
“Human rights like football required doing goals cannot be scored without energy movement, cooperation, action on the pitch and the issues of workers rights and Qatar is an apt example,” head of Norway Football Federation, Klaveness said.
“My fellow panelists here today have made a great contribution to the impressive list of legal reforms in FIFA and labour reforms in Qatar and it’s not easy,” she said, pointing towards efforts to address workers welfare by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
However, she also applied pressure on FIFA to do more to address the concerns.