The Fritt Ord Tribute to Lise Klaveness
The president of the Football Association of Norway (NFF), Lise Klaveness is awarded the Fritt Ord Tribute for the brave, direct speech addressing human rights violations and discrimination she delivered at the international FIFA Congress in Qatar on Thursday, 31 March.
“Klaveness’ dedicated efforts at the FIFA congress, and especially her powerful speech, demonstrate exemplary and effective use of freedom of expression to fight the abuse of power, oppression and corruption”, states Grete Brochmann, chair of the Fritt Ord Board.
Klaveness’ speech was anchored in her own personal career as a footballer. She spoke cogently about important values such as equality, transparency and safety for LGBTQ people and other minorities. At the same time, she criticised how FIFA awarded the World Cup to Qatar, given that the country is not aligned with the values professed by the sport; FIFA’s delayed, rather vague reaction to Russia’s war against Ukraine; and international elite football’s lack of willingness to speak out against violations of human rights, corruption and discrimination.
The speech has already proven effective. It has been widely reported and supported internationally, at the same time as it has met with great resistance and criticism, not least within FIFA.
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar scheduled for this coming autumn has been touted as a highly controversial sporting event for several years. The Football Association of Norway resolved at its extraordinary congress last June to participate in the event and not to boycott it. At the same time, a grassroots proposal from Norwegian football clubs and put forward by the Trane Sports Club in Bergen, was supported by a vast majority. It involved NFF pledging to come forward with powerful criticism of FIFA at the congress in March this year, both for awarding the FIFA World Cup to Qatar and for the lack of follow up of systematic and lasting violations of human rights in connection with the preparations.
“Lise Klaveness’ speech in Qatar is thereby also a clear demonstration and sign of engagement on the part of the people’s movement that Norwegian football represents”, adds Grete Brochmann.
Lise Klaveness’ comments on receiving the Tribute:
“My sincere thanks for this prestigious award. I accept it with humility and as motivation to work even harder to protect football as a sport while effecting much needed change.
In the past few days, I have experienced how extremely strong pressure can be brought to bear to stop people from speaking out on sensitive matters, in sensitive contexts. However, that pressure did not cause us to change our minds about this being something we had to address. I respect FIFA for allowing us to take the floor to present our criticism. Since then, we have received feedback from colleagues in many other countries, including non-western countries, stating that it was important to raise this debate at the FIFA Congress. Now it will be important to forge strong alliances and take the matter further.
I share the award with my good colleagues at NFF and in Norwegian football, not least with the local clubs and fans in Norway who entrusted me with the task of communicating a crucial message on behalf of all of them. I will be donating the prize money to the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) for its untiring efforts to promote respect and legal protection for the most vulnerable among us, asylum-seekers and refugees who come to Norway.”
About Lise Klaveness:
Lise Klaveness (40) has many years of experience as an elite footballer for Norway. She has played 73 matches on Norway’s national women’s football team and has 231 matches in the elite series to her credit. She has a degree in Law and has worked as an attorney at the Hjort law firm, as a special adviser on Legal Affairs at Norges Bank and as a deputy judge on the Oslo District Court. Klaveness has been an expert commentator for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and, in 2018, she was appointed head of elite series football at the Football Association of Norway (NFF). In March this year, she was elected president of the NFF. Lise Klaveness is married to Ingrid Fosse Sæthre, with whom she has three children.
The Fritt Ord Tribute:
The tribute consists of a cash award of NOK 100 000. The Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute is awarded by the Fritt Ord Foundation’s Board to show appreciation for constructive actions to promote freedom of speech, often in conjunction with a current event. Fritt Ord also awards the Fritt Ord Foundation Prize annually. The award ceremony for Lise Klaveness will take place after Easter.