When Ada Hegerberg became the inaugural winner of the Women’s Ballon d’Or, she cemented her place as the best player in women’s soccer. Despite being the world’s premier player, Hegerberg will be taking no part in the sports flagship event, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, according to a report by the Associated Press. The reason that Hegerberg won’t be joining the Norwegian National Team when they kick off their tournament on June 8 against Nigeria isn’t because of an injury, but because of a campaign to raise the profile and standard of the women’s game.
Hegerberg hasn’t been a part of the Norwegian setup for about two years, removing herself from selection after deciding that the country viewed her sport with disregard and indifference, failing to create a strategy for progress despite the talented players that called Norway home. The decision made an immediate impact, with Norway becoming the first country in the world to declare that both men’s and women’s teams will be receiving equal pay.
That decision came in December 2017, just months after Hegerberg announced her decision. In the time since, Norway has appointed a female sporting director, former player Lise Klaveness, who devotes equal time to the men’s and women’s teams and organizes campaigns to develop women’s coaches. Despite this progress, Hegerberg still won’t be lining up for Norway in the World Cup.
Hegerberg previously commented on the situation to theAssociated Press back in 2018, saying, “A lot of things need to be done to make the conditions better for women who play football.”
The soccer superstar has yet to give any more details about her decision to reject the latest opportunity, but Klaveness has previously mentioned the Hegerberg believes “she cannot be at her best in this system.” While the Norwegian federation is disheartened by her decision, Klaveness is hopeful that one day Hegerberg will return to the fold.
“We need to try to have a confidential relationship and just talk directly to each other so we can have common ground and maybe have her back after the World Cup,” said Klaveness. “That’s where we are now.”
While Hegerberg’s international career was brief, leaving the team at the age of 21, it was prolific, with the incredible goal tally of 38 in 66 appearances. She has only gotten better since, scoring 211 goals in 208 games for Lyon along with an unbelievable 44 goals in 46 appearances in the Women’s Champions League.
Still, some things are bigger than football, and Hegerberg’s decision is part of a fight for equality for all women in the sport. Despite her absence, the presence of her decision will be felt.