Ada Hegerberg: It´s about respect for women´s soccer

Autor: Play For Her

Why the best striker in the world didn´t want to play in her national team anymore

Ada Hegerberg is a professional player at Olympique Lyon, a Norwegian national player, and also a Ballon d'Or "World Player of the Year" award winner. At the age of 16, she was already the most successful striker for her former club.

After playing for Turbine Potsdam for 2 years, Ada moved to French champions Olympique Lyon in 2014, winning the championship 6 times, the cup 5 times, the Supercup once and the Champions League 6 times, including the 2022 victory. The now 26-year-old went through all of Norway's youth national teams, was runner-up at U19 level in 2011, and again with the senior national team in 2013. 

"The respect wasn´t there"

Hegerberg was absent from the World Cup in France. Not because she had not qualified. Her team played, too, only she didn't. In the summer of 2017, after 66 international matches, she ended her career with the national team. The reason for this and for her non-participation in the World Cup was a dispute with the Norwegian Football Association.

In protest against the lack of appreciation and unfair pay in women's soccer, she refrained from further nominations. The NFF tried to change the top player's mind several times, but was unsuccessful each time. "It's about respect for women's soccer. I think the respect was not there.", she said.  

Her rebellion was successful

Shortly after her resignation, the NFF became the first federation in the world to decide to pay its women's & men's national teams equally. But this only came about because Norway's men's national team had agreed to forgo part of its own bonuses.

However, Hegerberg was not only concerned with money. She wanted professionalization of women's soccer at all levels. "Soccer is the most popular sport in Norway for girls and boys and has been for years, but at the same time girls don't have the same opportunities as boys. We have stopped talking about development and other countries have overtaken us," she told The Guardian.

A comeback like a storybook

Five years later, Ada Hegerberg has now returned to the national team with a dream comeback. She scored three goals in the World Cup qualifier against Kosovo in April. But she still stands by her decision at the time. "I made a decision back then that I don't regret. But I've had a lot of time to reflect on many aspects of my life in recent years," the striker stressed on her return. She said she was pleased to now be able to fight for the team and equality at the same time. "I want to do my part to help us achieve our goals and inspire both young girls and boys across the country."

But will the stance Ada Hegerberg has taken have any effect? Or will it simply be forgotten now that she is back?

We hope that Ada has sent a wake-up call to the whole world. And it is now up to the rest of us to make it memorable and effective. Let's make a change!

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