Norway suffer heaviest defeat for 45 years in World Cup qualifying

Germany routed Norway 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Monday in the heaviest defeat suffered by the Norwegian national team since the 1970s.

Norway suffer heaviest defeat for 45 years in World Cup qualifying
Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

The world champions have won all eight of their qualifiers so far to top Group C and are unbeaten in their last 17 games, dating back to their defeat against France in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Timo Werner capped a stunning display with two first-half goals as Germany cruised to 4-0 up at half time in Stuttgart.

It could have been 5-0 at the break after Toni Kroos' shot was stopped by a superb save from Norway's goalkeeper Rune Almenning Jarstein, who plays for Hertha Berlin, on the stroke of half time.

But Norway's defence was breached again just five minutes into the second-half when Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka grabbed Germany's fifth goal when he headed home Draxler's cross.

Werner's replacement, the 32-year-old veteran Mario Gomez, headed home Germany's sixth on 79 minutes for his 31st international goal on his 71st appearance in the famous white shirt.

“That was a lesson for us,” admitted Norway coach Lars Lagerbäck, whose team are mathematically eliminated from World Cup qualification.

“Germany are a fantastic team, definitely one of the best in the world and they made it very, very hard for us.

“The best thing we can do is learn from them,” he added.

The defeat is the biggest margin suffered by Norway since a 9-0 humiliation at the hands of a Johan Cruyff-inspired Netherlands on November 1st 1972.

Norway striker Joshua King described the match as “the hardest day I have had on a football pitch.”

“It was embarrassing to be out there… I’m aware we were playing one of the best teams in the world, maybe the best in my opinion, but this does not look too good,” the AFC Bournemouth player told NRK, adding that world champions had “played around” the Norwegian team.

Jarstein called the defeat “heavy”.

“It’s a long time since I’ve felt so small. We all agree that this is embarrassing and painful. We have to face it, this was not good,” the goalkeeper told NRK.

Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Werner revelled in the victory in his hometown, having started his career with VfB Stuttgart, and came off to a standing ovation on 66 minutes against Norway.

The world champions raced into a 3-0 lead after just 21 minutes against the hapless Norwegians.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil was a key figure, sparking the rout by finishing off a chance he created when he fired home Jonas Hector's cross for the opening goal after just ten minutes.

Paris Saint-Germain star Julian Draxler, on Germany's right wing, netted the second on 17 minutes when he turned in a tight space between defenders and fired home Özil's final pass.

Werner then slotted home Thomas Müller's final pass with a classic striker's goal on 21 minutes, and claimed his second by heading home Müller's cross on 40 minutes.

READ ALSO: Norway out of women's Euros without scoring after Danish defeat


Norway’s football clubs to vote on Qatar World Cup boycott

Will Norwegian football star Erling Braut Haaland stay home or play on what fans have dubbed a "cemetery?" This Sunday, a meeting of Norway's football community will decide whether to boycott next year's World Cup in Qatar.

Norway's football clubs to vote on Qatar World Cup boycott
Norway's forward Erling Haaland (L) and teammates wear jerseys reading "Fair play for migrant workers" before the international friendly football match between Norway and Greece at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga in preperation for the UEFA European Championships, on June 6, 2021. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

Under pressure from grassroots activists the Norwegian Football Federation(NFF) has decided to hold an extraordinary congress to decide on whether to pass up football’s showpiece event all together.

The games on the pitches in the Middle Eastern emirate will “unfortunately be like playing on a cemetery,” according to Ole Kristian Sandvik, spokesman of the Norwegian Supporters Alliance (NSA), invoking a commonly used metaphor among opponents of Norway’s participation.

Norway, which has not qualified for a major international competition since Euro 2000, is currently fourth in its World Cup qualifying group behind Turkey, the Netherlands and Montenegro. 

So while qualification seems an uphill task, the result of the vote could have an impact on whether Norway and its young star Haaland — one of the rising stars of world football — continue to play qualifying matches. 

The movement calling for a boycott began north of the Arctic Circle when football club Tromso IL spoke out against turning a blind eye to alleged human rights abuses at the end of February.

“We can no longer sit and watch people die in the name of football,” the first division club proclaimed.

Qatar has faced criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are involved in the construction of stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, with campaigners accusing employers of exploitation and forcing labourers to work in dangerous conditions.

Qatari authorities meanwhile insist they have done more than any country in the region to improve worker welfare.

“There is no doubt that this World Cup should never have been awarded to Qatar,” Tom Hogli, a former professional footballer turned public relations officer for Tromso IL, told AFP.

“The conditions there are abominable and many have lost their lives,” he added.

In March, a spokesman for the Qatari organisers put the number of deaths on the construction sites at “three” since 2014, with another 35 having died away from their workplaces, challenging the heavy toll reported by some rights groups.

Push from fans
The Tromso call began gathering pace in Norway, where clubs operate under a democratic structure, and under pressure from fans, many teams now say “nei” (no).

According to Sandvik, the fans feel that the deaths on the World Cup sites would have been avoided “if they had not had to build hotels, railways and stadiums”.

Nearly half of Norwegians, 49 percent, now say they are in favour of a boycott, while only 29 percent are against it, according to a poll published by newspaper VG on Wednesday.

The Nordic country’s national squad has already protested conditions in Qatar, but stopped short of calling for a boycott.

Before recent Norway games, Borussia Dortmund superstar Haaland, captain Martin Odegaard and the rest of the team have worn t-shirts with slogans like “Human rights on and off the pitch.”

Other countries, like Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have also followed suit.

FIFA, on the other hand, argue that awarding the hosting of the World Cup in Qatar has opened the door to social progress.

“We know there is still work to be done, but we need to recognise the significant progress achieved in a very short time,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in May.

‘Few successes’ 
While the executive committee of the NFF have said they regret Qatar being awarded the World Cup, they oppose a boycott.

President Terje Svendsen said he thought it was “not the right tool to improve the human rights situation or the working conditions in Qatar,” when speaking at the federation’s ordinary annual congress in March.

According to the NFF, a boycott could end up costing Norway 205 million Norwegian kroner ($24 million, 20 million euros) in fines and compensation as well as lost revenue.

Feeling the pressure from grassroots campaigns, the NFF referred the matter to an extraordinary congress which on Sunday will bring together the eight members of its executive committee, representatives of 18 districts and of hundreds of professional and amateur clubs.

The discussions will be revolve around the findings of an expert committee which, with the exception of two members representing fans, has also come out against a boycott.

“For a boycott to succeed, you need a critical mass behind it, an opposition that calls for it in the country, the UN to put pressure on the
authorities, the business world, the trade unions and civil society to put pressure on it in the long term,” committee chairman Sven Mollekleiv said in a debate hosted by broadcaster TV2.

“Historically, there are few successes,” he said.

Rather than a boycott, the committee recommended 26 measures to consolidate and further the gains made in Qatar but also to ensure that FIFA doesn’t become complicit in so called “sportswashing” — the polishing of a country’s public image through a major sporting event.

Some initial supporters of a boycott, like Tromso’s Hogli, have since sided with these conclusions, although calls for a complete boycott remain.