Women's World Cup: 'I was placed in a system where I didn't have a voice,' says 2018 Ballon d'Or winner on not playing for Norway
What's the story?
Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg, who stopped playing for the Norwegian national team two years ago, has opened up about the circumstances that led to the decision.
In case you didn't know...
Hegerberg, who lifted the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or last year, decided to give up her international duties as a form of protest against the inequality in the working conditions and support surrounding women's football over the years.
Since making her professional debut as a 15-year-old with Norwegian outfit Kolbotn, the striker has racked up 250 career goals, which include a historic 15 in the UEFA Women's Champions League during the 2017-18 season.
The 23-year-old has emerged as an influential figure at Lyon, where she netted 26 goals in 22 appearances in her debut season. She recently helped the French giants to their fourth, and her third, consecutive Champions League title after guiding them to multiple trebles in the last few years.
Hegerberg has already been tied down to a contract that will keep her at Lyon till 2021.
The heart of the matter
Hegerberg has admitted that while the decision to step away from international football was mentally and emotionally difficult, she knows that it must be done in order to help women in the future generations.
Speaking in an interview with ESPN, she said, "I was trying to make an impact [on Norway] for a lot of years, and I could see that in this system, in the federation, it didn't fit me at all. I feel like I was placed in a system where I didn't have a voice. I felt this weight on my shoulders more and more: This isn't working."
"When you're quite sure about yourself and the values and where you want to go, it's easy to make difficult choices. For me at that point, being able not to lose myself and not to lose what I believe in, I had to take that choice. I couldn't go any other way. And as soon as I did it, it was like [exhales], I could be myself again. I could perform at the highest level again."
The Ballon d'Or winner added, "But those weeks in front of that decision were almost like a depression. It was such a hard thing to do. It can't be easy when a woman stands and tries to be critical in a positive way. For me, it was really important that [the federation] knew what I was talking about, point by point. When the media asked me what I told the federation, I said, that's between me and them so they can work on it."
The Women's World Cup is scheduled to begin on Friday when hosts France will face South Korea at the Parc des Princes.