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Danish sports minister says team to go to World Cup in Qatar

October 13, 2021 GMT
Denmark's Kasper Dolberg, right, and Austria's Davis Alaba battle for the ball during the World Cup group F qualifying soccer match between Denmark and Austria, in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday Oct. 12, 2021. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
Denmark's Kasper Dolberg, right, and Austria's Davis Alaba battle for the ball during the World Cup group F qualifying soccer match between Denmark and Austria, in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday Oct. 12, 2021. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
Denmark's Kasper Dolberg, right, and Austria's Davis Alaba battle for the ball during the World Cup group F qualifying soccer match between Denmark and Austria, in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday Oct. 12, 2021. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Despite calling it “a wrong decision” to stage next year’s World Cup in Qatar, the Danish sports minister said Wednesday that a boycott of the tournament is not the answer.

Speaking a day after Denmark qualified for the tournament, Ane Halsboe-Joergensen told broadcaster TV2 that the team will go to World Cup.

Qatar has faced criticism amid reports of discriminatory laws and conditions for the migrant workers preparing the Gulf nation for next year’s tournament.

No country has announced plans to boycott the World Cup, although Norway is facing calls to do so from some clubs, including Rosenborg and Tromso.

Any country that qualified for the World Cup and refused to play would face punishment from FIFA, including a fine and ban from trying to qualify for the next tournament.

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Giving up a place in Qatar would likely mean self-expulsion from the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico. That tournament will have 48 teams, with 16 places going to European teams instead of 13.

FIFA has not yet published regulations for the 2022 tournament, though rules for the 2018 edition called for imposing a fine of at least 250,000 Swiss francs ($290,000) on a federation which withdrew its team up to 30 days before the start. Teams that pulled out in the month before kickoff or during the tournament would be fined at least 500,000 Swiss francs ($580,000).

In 2010, Qatar won the right to host the World Cup in a contentious FIFA vote that sparked corruption investigations into the entire bidding process. Evidence was not found by FIFA to warrant stripping Qatar of the hosting rights.

The natural gas-rich emirate has spent tens of billions of dollars to build hotels, a new transport system and lavish stadiums to cope with staging the event.

Denmark beat Austria 1-0 Tuesday to earn a spot in the tournament.

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