Ada Hegerberg

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Why the world’s best player won’t be playing at the Women’s World Cup

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The best player on the best club team in women’s soccer won’t be playing at the crown jewel of women’s soccer, the ever growing and expanding FIFA Women’s World Cup.

And it’s not because her nation didn’t qualify for the tournament. It did.

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Striker Ada Hegerberg has not played for her native Norway since 2017, protesting what she states is gender discrimination from the Norwegian FA between how it treats the men’s national team and the women’s team. While staying away from the Norwegian National Team, Hegerberg has continued to blossom as a star for the best team in the world, Lyon. In the past three seasons, she’s scored a combined 97 goals in all competitions, including an incredible 46 goals in 2017-2018 in both Ligue 1 and the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Obviously, Norway, despite qualifying for this World Cup without Hegerberg, could gain from her re-joining the squad, but according to Norway’s coach, Martin Sjögren, Hegerberg rejected his requests.

“It was tough on so many training camps,” Hegerberg told Norwegian sports magazine Josimar. “I’ve been broken mentally. There has been a deep depressive feeling. I had nightmares after having been with the national team. One should not have such things. If you want to get anywhere in life, make some choices. As soon as the thought came into my head: I think I must quit the national team…then just run everything off. I started to sleep well again.”

In the months after Hegerberg’s decision, which came after the 2017 European Championships, Norway’s FA adjusted their payscale to give the women’s team a higher salary and bonuses. However, it hasn’t moved Hegerberg and she looks ready to spend the rest of her career away from the national team.

Hegerberg also said to Josimar that despite some of the changes, she feel’s there’s a need for new leadership at the top. Hegerberg described her experience as the women’s team not being taken seriously by the FA, and that she and her sister, a fellow Norwegian international, were admonished for showing up to a team dinner late because they were signing autographs.

Initially, there was support for Hegerberg from even the men’s national team players, but with Hegerberg remaining away and the World Cup approaching, that could be starting to change.

Hopefully, there will be a resolution in the future between Hegerberg and the Norway FA, but for now, it’s Lyon’s gain and the world’s loss that Hegerberg, the first winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or, won’t be at the World Cup.

Quest for equity will be theme of Women’s World Cup

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The world’s best player won’t be at the Women’s World Cup but the world’s best team will be, with both sides taking a stand for equality.

[ WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Groups A, B and C | Groups D, E and F ]

The U.S. national team, ranked No. 1 globally, will try to defend its title in soccer’s premier tournament, which kicks off Friday in Paris. While the Americans make their way around France for the monthlong event, back at home they’re all part of a lawsuit that accuses U.S. Soccer of gender discrimination.

Meanwhile, Ada Hegerberg , the first female Ballon d’Or winner for the world’s top player, won’t be accompanying Norway’s national team. She stepped away in 2017 because of what she perceives to be a general disregard for women’s soccer by the country’s federation. The crux of her frustration is the uneven pace of progress and strategy in the women’s game.

Hegerberg, 23, is at the top of her game. She had a hat trick for Lyon in its 4-1 win over Barcelona in the recent Women’s Champions League final. In domestic games, she has 211 goals in 208 games.

“We are happy for this debate to raise attention and respect for women’s soccer in the world, and I do view it as a big change-maker.” said Lise Klaveness, sporting director for the Norwegian Football Federation, “But I just wish she was in our team.”

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ukraine, Ecuador, Senegal advance to QF (video) ]

The U.S. team hopes to collectively be a difference-maker, too.

Twenty-eight members of the current player pool filed the lawsuit on March 8 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

Because the lawsuit is still in the early stages, it’s likely no significant movement will be made until the team returns home.

Megan Rapinoe was asked whether the pay issue puts more pressure on the team – which will already be facing a strong field looking to topple the three-time World Cup winners.

“I think that the huge media splash of the lawsuit is behind us and we’re obviously focused on the World Cup,” Rapinoe said. “But also it’s like this is our life, and there are a lot of things that we have to grapple and deal with: Family, friends, partners, media, pressures, games, World Cup, travel. So it’s just kind of just one more thing. This team always has a lot of media attention, and we’ve always had a lot of things on our plate so it’s not like it’s anything new, or all of a sudden we’re getting all the more attention. It’s sort of the same for us.”

The 24-team tournament will be played at nine stadiums across France over the course of the next month, with the final set for July 7 in Lyon.


The last time

The United States won the last World Cup in 2015. Carli Lloyd scored three goals in the first 16 minutes to help give the Americans a 5-2 victory over Japan for their third overall World Cup title, most for any nation since the tournament was introduced in 1991. England was a surprising third-place finisher in Canada.


Video review

In March, FIFA approved the use of video review for the World Cup in France. The Video Assistant Referee system, or VAR, was used at the men’s World Cup in Russia last year.


Prize money

The prize money for the World Cup will be $30 million, of which $4 million will go to the federation of the champion. While the total is double the prize money for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, it is a fraction of the $400 million in prize money for last year’s men’s World Cup, of which $38 million went to champion France. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, says prize money for the 2022 men’s World Cup will be $440 million.


Ticket fiasco

Some fans who ordered tickets to World Cup matches were surprised last month when they discovered their seats were not together. The issue was especially problematic for families bringing young children. After an outcry on social media, FIFA said it would work with the local organizing committee to resolve the issues.

Some fans recently reported tickets that had been delivered electronically were no longer available, with the message: “FIFA and the LOC are currently working on improving the seating arrangements for certain orders for a limited number of matches. If your order is affected, please expect to receive a dedicated communication shortly.”


Too many tournaments

FIFA has also been criticized for scheduling the World Cup final on the same day as the Copa America final in Rio and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in Chicago. U.S. coach Jill Ellis pointedly said: “In my own personal opinion, playing three big matches in one day isn’t supporting the women’s game. So, there you go.”

Hegerberg hat-trick leads Lyon to women’s Champions League title

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Lyon won its fourth straight women’s Champions League title behind a hat-trick from defending Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg as they topped Barcelona 4-1 in Budapest.

The game got out of hand early, as Lyon bagged all four of its scores in the opening half-hour, cruising from that point on. German international Dzsenifer Marozsan opened the scoring just five minutes in, and Hegerberg took over from there, striking twice in the opening 20 minutes before a 30th minute goal sealed the deal.

Marozsan’s goal was an emotional one, a crowd favorite being from the city originally. The opener was assisted on a cross from Shanice van de Sanden, who picked up the first two assists in a brilliant supporting role from the start.

The matchup was billed as a face-off between Hegerberg and Barcelona forward Lieke Martens – winner of the 2017 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award before the Ballon d’Or was introduced – but it was no contest as Martens missed a 68th minute effort, forced to wait until the 89th minute to provide her contribution, an assist on the consolation goal by Asisat Oshoala. England striker Toni Duggan also featured in the match for Barcelona, but she missed a chance in the opening minutes for Barcelona before Lyon took control, and Duggan was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go.

Barcelona’s project is still a model for others around Europe, having only introduced its women’s side in 2015 and building a solid base, but the gulf in talent was exposed in Budapest Saturday in their first European final. Lyon, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a competitive match in nearly a year, falling to Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in last year’s Coupe de France Feminine final.

Ballon d’Or winner Hegerberg will not play in Women’s World Cup

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup will be absent the first Ballon d’Or winner as Norway left Ada Hegerberg of its squad for this summer’s tournament.

Hegerberg has been absent from the Norwegian national team since 2017 as a protest for how female players are treated in her home country. The Norwegian Football Association struck a new deal with players just months after her protest began that nearly doubled the available funds for player salaries, but she has yet to relent.

In February, Norway head coach Martin Sjogren confirmed he offered her a place in the team, saying “We tried to solve it, we had meetings, but she decided not to play.” The move was confirmed on Thursday with her absence from their official World Cup squad.

Hegerberg’s older sister Andrine, who plays for PSG and has 17 national team caps, was also absent from the squad.

Hegerberg is one of the world’s most decorated players for her age, having already won the Champions League three times at just 23 years old. She has 129 goals for Olympique Lyonnais in just 103 appearances, and will play for a fourth Champions League title on May 18. Hegerberg earned 66 caps for the Norwegian national team before stepping away. She won the inaugural Ballon d’Or on the women’s side after the award was extended to a male and female presentation, and was infamously asked to twerk by presenter and DJ Martin Solveig, seemingly adding fuel to her fight against gender discrimination.

Ballon d’Or winner refuses pleas to join World Cup squad

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Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg is sticking to her principles despite the urging of her country.

The Norwegian star, 23, will not be joining her national team for this summer’s World Cup in an ongoing protest of the treatment of women’s soccer players in her country.

[ MORE: Messi reacts to win ]

Norwegian manager Martin Sjogren says the federation tried to find a fix for the player, but Hegerberg was unmoved from the position which has kept her away from NT duty since 2017.

Norwegian football has signed an equal pay agreement since Hegerberg left the team. Here’s Sjogren From the BBC:

“As a coach, you need to focus on the players who want to be a part of the team and Ada doesn’t. We respect that and we have been working hard with the other players and they have been doing a great job.”

Hegerberg made her international debut at 16, and has 38 goals in 66 caps. The Lyon star has a robust 246 goals in 244 club appearances, including a 54-goal season in 2015-16.

Is there a chance for a late change of heart? Norway is in a group with Nigeria, South Korea, and hosts France.