Sharp headwind from home: A Norwegian fan group heavily criticizes Erling Haaland for his move to Manchester City. It's about the human rights violations in the United Arab Emirates - and the "biggest problem in football".
Soccer striker Erling Haaland has been sharply criticized by a fan group in his Norwegian homeland. "Bride plays for dirty blood money" was written on a banner that SK Brann supporters unrolled in the game against Haaland's youth club Bryne FK. With the action, Norwegian fans criticized Manchester City's financier.
The club is majority owned by Abu Dhabi United Group Investment. The emirate is accused of human rights violations. Haaland switched to the English champions for 75 million euros in the summer, much to the displeasure of many fans.
"Haaland cannot escape criticism. He could have chosen any club in the world," SK Brann fan spokesman Erlend Ytre-Arne Vagane told Norwegian radio. "He didn't have to choose which club was the worst in terms of 'sportswashing'."
"Sportswashing" implies attempts by countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar to improve their international reputation by taking over sports clubs. Other top clubs such as Paris St. Germain with their Qatari President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Newcastle United after being taken over by a Saudi billionaire have to face this criticism again and again. According to Vagane, the action in Norway should help the supporters not close their eyes to the political background: "It draws the limelight to the biggest problem in football. From the reactions we see that it heats up the mind and a debate triggers."
Haaland himself recently had to give up the first title of the season to Liverpool after his top start with a goal and victory in the first game for the Skyblues against Bayern Munich. In the English Supercup game against the cup winners coached by Jürgen Klopp, the Norwegian star striker missed two chances in the first half in the 3-1 defeat and just hit the top of the bar from the best position shortly before the final whistle. "I'm absolutely not worried about it. He will help us," said former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola after the game.