Women's World Cup: Why Ada Hegerberg, the world's best player, refuses to play for Norway at France 2019
Norway will be without its leading goal scorer from the 2015 Women's World Cup
When Norway released its squad for the 2019 Women's World Cup there was a notable name missing from its list of 23 players: Ada Hegerberg.
Hegerberg has been one of the best players in the world the last couple of years. In 2016, she was named the UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe. In 2017, she was named the BBC Women's footballer of the Year. And most recently, she was named the inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or Winner in 2018.
In her club career with Olympique Lyon, she has won Division 1 Feminine all five years she has been with the club and has won the UEFA Women's Champions League three times. She will get a chance for a fourth Champions League title when Lyon plays FC Barcelona in the finals on May 18. Hegerberg has scored at least 20 goals each year with Lyon and has led or tied for the league scoring title three times. She has also won the Champions League scoring title twice, including scoring a tournament-record 15 goals in 2018.
In the 2015 Women's World Cup, Hegerberg, then only 19 years old, scored three goals as Norway advanced out of the group stage. She left the team in late 2017 after she said she did not like how women's soccer was treated in Norway and has not made an appearance since.
After she left the team, the Norwegian Football Association and the Norway Players' Association signed an agreement that helped the pay scale disparity between men's and women's players and awarded equal compensation, but Hegerberg said her decision was not about money.
"Obviously, I'd love to play for my country. I've been quite critical, direct with the federation [about] what I felt hasn't been good enough in my career in the national team," Hegerberg told CNN in December. "In the end it was an easy choice for me to move on in my career. I've been quite clear with them the whole way."
Norway qualified for the the 2019 tournament through UEFA World Cup Qualifying without Hegerberg.
"We tried to solve it, we had meetings, but she decided not to play," coach Martin Sjogren told BBC.
In 2016, she was named the Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year, the first soccer player to win since 1981.
Hegerberg is incredibly dangerous near the net. She has scored 38 goals in 66 caps for the national team. She played her last game with the national team the month she turned 22 years old and was only 28 goals short of the all-time Norway record.
"As a coach, you need to focus on the players who want to be a part of the team and Ada doesn't," Sjogren told BBC. "We respect that and we have been working hard with the other players and they have been doing a great job."
Norway will open up play in Group A against Nigeria on June 8. The other two teams in its group are France and South Korea.You can stream the Women's World Cup via fuboTV (Try for free).
Who wins every Women's World Cup match? Visit SportsLine now to see picks from European expert David Sumpter, the math professor whose model is up 2,000 percent on international soccer.
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