She’s one of the globe’s best players but the world won’t be able to watch Ada Hegerberg this summer for what is being described as the mother of all women’s tournaments.
“I don’t mean to beat a dead horse (what a weird saying) but why exactly is Hegerberg not playing with Norway? If Messi or Ronaldo opted to not play in a World Cup the world would know why not with clarity,” asked Heather O’Reilly, who plays for North Carolina Courage, in a tweet which received 1, 200 likes after Norway’s squad was announced for the forthcoming Women’s World Cup with Hegerberg absent from the list.
“I would like to know as well,” replied Alex Morgan, the American who is as ruthless in front of goal as her fellow striker Hegerberg and who, last month, was named in Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
The 23-yera-old Hegerberg used to play for Norway, but she doesn’t anymore. The gifted striker, who is a Ballon d’Or winner and owner of multiple Champions League titles, may never represent her country again.
Though even her contemporaries want to know her reasons for giving up the chance of playing on the biggest stage of all, Hegerberg has been unwilling to give a blow-by-blow account of why she is at odds with her country’s federation
“If I start saying … things are going to blow up everywhere,” Hegerberg, who last played for her country in 2017, tells CNN Sport as way of explaining why she has never divulged the specific reasons for sacrificing her international career.
It is not about money, she says, revealing that she respects elite male players for the oodles they earn, but ensuring the young girls following her path have the same opportunities as aspiring young male footballers.
“I was really honest with the national team representative what I felt wasn’t good enough. What my experience had been since youth with the national team,” she says, speaking at her club’s training ground in Lyon.
“I wanted it to be a relationship between me and them, so they could take the feedback and do something with it.
“I have no thoughts about giving that to all the people. I think it’s a good way to deal with things, to be honest – honesty is the right way for development. Now I’ve done my feedback, it’s up to them to do what they want to do with it.
“I’ve never been trying to control the starting 11, or something internal to the group. This is a feeling that’s based on my whole experience with the national team. It’s not even up to me anymore. I’ve moved on in my career and my life. I was sharp in what I meant with them, I don’t really have a reason to share that with anyone else.
“I’ve always respected men’s footballers for what they earn. The gap is enormous, but at the same time you need to give young women and girls the same opportunity as the men. That’s where we need to do the change.