Women's World Cup: Why Ada Hegerberg won't join the party in France
France hosted the 7th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and beat South Korea 4-0 in the tournament opener. Ada Hergberg isn’t a part of the Norwegian contingent to France and no one seems to care much. But here are few reasons why you should care; at 23, she’s won the Champions League with Olympique Lyonnais for a record fourth consecutive year, scoring a hattrick in the final against Barcelona. In 2015, Hegerberg was awarded the Norwegian Gold Ball, given to the best footballer in Norway. The last time a woman won it was 20 years earlier. So why wasn’t she on the plane to France?
Post Norway's group stage elimination from Euro 2017, Hergberg accused the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF) with a lack of preparation, execution and communication. Her next step? A Lionel Messi-esque retirement from the national team. The NFF countered Hegerberg by claiming she had never raised any such concerns internally and said the decision had come out of the blue.
The response astonished Hergberg, who said she had voiced concerns several times, and now felt that her decision had already been justified. Hegerberg proposed a series of changes to the NFF, but the federation accepted little blame even though they’d like her to return. Since the fiasco, NFF has doubled wages of women’s national football team but Hegerberg feels there is "still a long way to go".
Last week in an interview with the Norwegian magazine Josimar, the Olympique Lyonnais’ striker revealed further details about her stint with the national team. She felt the NFF failed to prioritise the women’s team, an impression she'd had since she began in the youth teams at 15. “We weren’t taken seriously as a women’s national team,” she said. “There was no culture for training with quality or wanting to get better.”
Hergerberg is the inaugural recipient of Ballon d'Or Féminin which is the equivalent of the Ballon d’Or, an event, which was marred with further controversy when she was asked to twerk live on stage by host DJ, Martin Solveig. She firmly replied with “No”.
Firmness and clarity of thought remain a feature of Hergberg personality and while media opinions about her remain divided, with a prolific scoring record of 180 goals in 178 club appearances she lets her football do the talking.